After years of operating a multi-pronged criminal syndicate that included hacking, money laundering, selling fake pharmaceuticals, and running illegal online casinos (among many other offenses), it appears that the ringleaders of one of the largest cybercrime rings in the short history of the internet are finally being brought to justice.
Three men were indicted this week in the case.
The alleged mastermind of the elaborate set of schemes has been identified as Gery Shalon, 31. With its hundreds upon hundreds of accomplices, the syndicate had far-reaching operations all around the world. Their most widely-publicized moves came when they hacked financial giant JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) last year, as well as media firm Dow Jones, the parent company of MarketWatch and The Wall Street Journal.
Tentacles In Everything
The spread of criminal activities that Shalon's diffuse group engaged in was staggering. The syndicate made its biggest headlines when it stole tens of millions of clients' data from 12 different major companies.
The hackers used accountholders' information to send brokers and bankers fraudulent emails that appeared to be from reputable outlets (WSJ, Scottrade, E*Trade, among others) but were merely advertisements for pump-and-dump schemes for penny stocks. They were able to hide the money flowing into their network of online casinos, run from Hungary and Ukraine, by manipulating the charges so that they showed up as innocuous payments to pet stores or bridal outlets.
The schemes went on for as many as 8 years, in part abetted by the willful neglect of shady banking officials. For a cut of the action, they'd look the other way. These institutions have been subject to massive fines in the millions of dollars for turning a blind eye. Similarly, the crime syndicate would enlist the cooperation of other black marketeers by providing them with money laundering services—for a fee.
Tools of the Trade
As the leader over hundreds of associates, Shalon has been dubbed the "digital don." Upon his arrest, he had all the trappings of an international criminal: he had over 200 forms of identification, including 30 passports from 17 different nations; he ran 75 different shell companies, including taking over a credit union in New Jersey and a bitcoin exchange. Fittingly, he also purportedly had $100 million sitting in a Swiss bank account.
Shalon and his other main accomplices who have been indicted (Joshua Aaron, Ziv Orenstein, and Anthony Murgio) will face decades in prison if convicted of the laundry list of charges.