The Department of Justice announced the indictment Tuesday of three men in "the largest theft of customer data from a U.S. financial institution in history."
The co-conspirators were charged in a 23-count indictment with the hacking of several financial institutions and financial news publishers. They are accused of stealing the personal information of over 100 million people, including 80 million from one financial institution alone, according to the indictment.
The three defendants, Ziv Orenstein, Gery Shalon, and Joshua Samuel Aaron allegedly generated hundreds of millions in profits from market manipulation schemes tied to the hacks. Federal investigators claim Shalon concealed $100 million in illicit profits in Swiss bank accounts.
Shalon, 31, of Savyon, Israel and Orenstein, 40, of Bat Hefer, Israel were arrested in in July 2015 by the Israel Police. They are awaiting extradition to the U.S. pending charges that they face there.
Aaron, however, remains on the lam. The FBI is continuing its search for the 31-year-old, who was born in Maryland and has ties to Eastern Europe.
Among the rackets allegedly carried out by the three men was an elaborate “pump and dump” stock scheme ,perpetrated from 2007 to 2015, in which Aaron operated as the “front-man” using the alias “Mike Shields” to communicate with brokerage companies and co-conspirators.
The team allegedly used the hacked contact information of millions of Americans to drive up the price of a stock through misleading email campaigns. After the stock price was inflated, members of the conspiracy would sell off their shares and rake in huge profits.
At a press conference in Manhattan on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the alleged crimes “showcase a brave new world of hacking for profit” and called it “hacking as a business model.”
The three men allegedly used the profits to operate numerous illegal gambling websites, while also hacking into the websites of other online gambling operations.
A former college classmate of Aaron's, Anthony Murgio, is charged in a separate indictment with conspiracy charges.
The most serious federal conspiracy charges outlined in the indictment related to wire fraud, securities fraud, and illegal gambling carry maximum prison terms of 20 years, according to the indictment.
Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mike Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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