The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Tuesday the arrest of 26 people for allegedly engaging in identity theft and other computer crimes.
The arrests were a product of a two-year undercover effort dubbed “Operation Card Shop.” At the heart of the operation was CarderProfit.cc, a fake website for buying and selling credit card numbers that was created by the FBI to gather information on cybercriminals.
Those arrested in the operation are charged with “buying and selling stolen identities, exploited credit cards, counterfeit documents and sophisticated hacking tools,” according to the FBI.
Operation Card Shop took place in 12 countries and on four continents. Eleven of the arrests took place in the U.S. Two of them happened in New York, home to the FBI’s first Cyber Branch, which was created as the agency’s response to what it called an “increase in cyber-based crimes” in a statement that also suggested hackers are not outside the reach of law enforcement.
“Cyber crooks trade contraband and advance their schemes online with impunity, and they will only be stopped by law enforcement’s continued vigilance and cooperation,” FBI Assistant Director Janice K. Fedarcyk says. “Today’s arrests cause significant disruption to the underground economy and are a stark reminder that masked IP addresses and private forums are no sanctuary for criminals and are not beyond the reach of the FBI.”
Operation Card Shop is the latest in a long string of cybercrime initiatives carried out by the FBI. In January, the agency file-sharing site Megaupload after its staff was charged with copyright violations (inviting a retaliatory strike from ). Late last year, the FBI the arrest of six Estonian citizens after they were charged with using malware to infiltrate Internet advertising services.
FBI Director has previously said that cyberattacks will replace more traditional threats, such as terrorism, as the most serious threat facing the U.S.