WASHINGTON — The FBI and law enforcement agencies in Ukraine, the Netherlands and Britain are tracking down international cyber criminals who stole $70 million by using malicious software that captured passwords and account numbers to log onto online bank accounts.
At a press briefing Friday, the FBI said Operation Trident Breach began in May 2009 when agents in Omaha, Nebraska, were alerted to some of the stolen money, which was flowing in bulk payments to 46 bank accounts around the United States.
Ukrainian authorities have detained five people thought to have participated in some of the thefts and Ukraine has executed eight search warrants in the ongoing investigation.
Gordon Snow, the FBI's assistant director in charge of the cyber division, said police agencies overseas were instrumental in finding criminals who designed the malicious software, others who used it and still others called "money mules," who transferred the stolen funds to havens as distant as Hong Kong, Singapore and Cyprus.
Many of the victims were small- and medium-sized businesses that do not have the money to invest in high-level computer security.