New York: More than 60 people in an eastern European-based cybercrime network were charged in the United States for using computer viruses to infiltrate US bank accounts, prosecutors have said.
Federal prosecutors in New York said the defendants were "involved in a global cybercrime scheme that used the Zeus Trojan and other Internet viruses to steal millions of dollars from US bank accounts."
The dozens of suspects were charged with crimes including bank fraud and identity theft in a scheme that allegedly moved at least USD 3 million to hundreds of accounts set up by accomplices.
The charges followed Tuesday`s arrests of 19 people in Britain on computer crimes charges and were part of "a sweeping and coordinated effort to combat the 21st century`s variation on traditional bank robbery," US Attorney Preet Bharara said in New York.
Victims included five banks and dozens of individual and business account holders, officials said.
"As today`s (Sep 30) arrests show, the modern, high-tech bank heist does not require a gun, a mask, a note, or a getaway car. It requires only the Internet and ingenuity. And it can be accomplished in the blink of an eye, with just a click of the mouse -- at a distance of thousands of miles," he said.
The alleged crime ring had hackers in eastern Europe using a "malicious computer programme to obtain access to the bank accounts of small and mid-sized businesses and municipal entities in the United States," according to the criminal complaints.
Zeus virus infect computers when the user unwittingly clicks on a link or attachment in a seemingly legitimate email.
"Once installed, the Zeus Trojan allows computer hackers to secretly monitor the victim`s computer activity, recording, among other things, the victim`s bank account numbers, passwords, and authentication information," the complaint said.