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Crime Botnet Security News

US, NY Bust 92 Mules In 'ZeuS Trojan' Crime Ring 97

Posted by kdawson
from the beasts-of-burden dept.
Following on the 19 ZeuS botnet arrests in the UK, adeelarshad82 and other readers sent word that US and New York officials have unsealed more than 90 indictments of money mules and others accused of helping siphon more than $3M from 5 banks and dozens of individuals, and sending it overseas. The Manhattan US Attorney announced charges against 37 individuals and New York charged 55. Most of those indicted are foreign students who came to the US on exchange visitor visas. Most are from Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, or Belarus. Here is the FBI's lengthy press release. A security blogger has put up Facebook party photos of some of the indicted individuals who are still at large.
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US, NY Bust 92 Mules In 'ZeuS Trojan' Crime Ring

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  • by Rivalz (1431453) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:03PM (#33754540)

    3 million / 90 = 33k per mule.... wait thats not enough for me to fly across 10 time zones to get arrested a year later.
    Seriously crime should pay better even in a recession.

    • by Cylix (55374) *

      The mules don't get to keep the full sum.

      i would wager they were keeping a very low percentage of the actual take. The big stake keepers were those directing things from abroad and arranging for the transfers. Honestly, a fair system they would have the lower take due to less risk, but criminals are not necessarily the brightest bunch. Then again if they can get back home what is the chance they will actually face any charges? Without any current connections this might be a bit difficult, but hopefully the

      • by gtall (79522)

        And who was enforcing a low take? Upper level criminals use the threat of violence to keep the lower level criminals from stealing from the "wrong persons". This wasn't a mere skimming operation.

    • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:20PM (#33754650)
      Even assuming most of these folks won't get anywhere near the full value of their withdrawl, for most of them it was likely the only way that they could get enough money to get overseas, possibly actually get some study done and maybe after their work was done, have a chance to start life in their shitty little eastern european countries.

      I have a good few friends in eastern europe. Trust me when I say that life is crap and opportunities are few and far between. While I certainly don't support or encourage crime like this, I can empathize with them.
      • by mirix (1649853) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:42PM (#33754758)

        Life is crap is rather relative. Sure it's not Sweden, but it isn't Burma either.

        Most east europeans I know have a fairly decent standard of living. There's room for improvement for sure, but it's not *that* bleak.

        Then again, I have an uncle who is a mech eng, and makes something like I'd make at mcdonalds here... but everything domestic there is considerably cheaper, so they aren't starving. The only real problem is getting western goods, or commodities with global prices (fuel is still expensive..) - This works in most parts of east europe I think. Moscow is a batshit insane corner case though, with ridiculous prices...

        Somehow they seem to be happier than the average american/canadian IME, though. More of a work enough to survive thing, as opposed to the 60h a week live to work thing we have happening here.

        And there's always a selection bias too, I guess. My Russian friends that want to come to the west badly seem to badmouth the motherland a lot more than friends that have no intention of leaving. I think part of it is a grass is greener thing.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        I have a good few friends in eastern europe. Trust me when I say that life is crap and opportunities are few and far between.

        Yes, because "eastern europe" is just one big entirely homogeneous country.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @09:28PM (#33755004)

      Despite the popular opinion, when you actually research it you find crime doesn't pay much better than honest work. If you are doing simple scut work, you get paid low wages, legal or illegal. Sure there are crime lords that make a lot, the heads of the drug cartels are filthy rich... But then that would be just like the people who created legal business empires. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, etc all amazingly rich, richer than the drug lords, and did the same basic thing: Created a successful empire selling what people want.

      All in all, crime doesn't pay all that well, especially compared to the risks. It only pays well if you are higher up, just like in the legit world. You may hear about some mid level drug dealer that makes $200k and say "Wow, crime paid well," until you realize a mid level executive can make the same.

      Capitalism doesn't seem to suspend the rules for illegal enterprise.

      • Err.... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by toby (759) *

        What's "legal" about Microsoft?! Convicted multiple times in anti-trust actions. Never out of the courts. [groklaw.net] Lost thousands of smaller cases.

        Gates hasn't got an honest bone in his body, all his reputation laundering notwithstanding.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770)

          If you seriously think anti-trust law is at all similar to criminal law then you are extremely uneducated in legal matters. Fundamentally Microsoft is a legal business. I don't care if you don't like that, it is the truth. It is legal to sell software. Even using somewhat "underhanded" tactics like bundling is legal. It is only a problem if you are a monopoly. In that case it isn't illegal like "You go to jail for it," it just means that the government can take remedies against the anti-competitive behavior

      • by jez9999 (618189)

        Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, etc all amazingly rich, richer than the drug lords, and did the same basic thing: Created a successful empire selling what people want.

        Didn't Warren Buffet admit that he made a ton of money by basically being good at playing the numbers gambling game otherwise known as the stock market?

        • Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, etc all amazingly rich, richer than the drug lords, and did the same basic thing: Created a successful empire selling what people want.

          Didn't Warren Buffet admit that he made a ton of money by basically being good at playing the numbers gambling game otherwise known as the stock market?

          It's not like any of the others would actually be as rich if it weren't for the stock market either. They all started a company which got them free stock from the start, they get stock options each year - and they ultimately got the power to influence the stock price of their company.

          And most of their wealth is actually in the company stock they own. If that tanked ...

      • You may hear about some mid level drug dealer that makes $200k and say "Wow, crime paid well," until you realize a mid level executive can make the same.

        Ah, but how easy is it for the mailroom boy to rise to a $200k executive job, eh? Criminals don't have that problem, they can just shoot all their rivals and start making that $200k, while the mailroom boy is still waiting to become mailroom head clerk once that guy retires.

      • Yep, and to support this here is the obligatory Freakonomics reference (emphasis mine):

        http://www.wikisummaries.org/Freakonomics:_A_Rogue_Economist_Explores_the_Hidden_Side_of_Everything [wikisummaries.org] (Chapter 3):

        In Chapter 3, Levitt offers an in-depth discussion of the economic workings of a Chicago drug gang, shattering the common misconception that all drug dealers are wealthy. His analysis of the financial records of a Chicago gang proved that most street-level dealers earned far less than minimum wage. He turn

      • As _Freakonomics_ put it, why do crack dealers still live with their mothers? Because they can't afford to move out

      • Agreed, crime isn't a get rich quick scheme. A successful career in criminal activity requires as much work and dedication as any other career. The skill-set necessary is a bit different, but other than that, it's pretty much the same thing as a "legal" business.
        Crime also has "corporate ladder" where better criminals can become heads and crappy criminals get laid off.
        Same shit.
    • No no, you're doing it wrong -- most people who would be mules don't do math that way -- they do it more like this:

      (Amount of time the trip takes me) / (toal amount of pay) = $x/hr.

      Seriously, criminals are not generally known for their stellar reasoning abilities.
    • well they could have at least robbed them all literally like going through the roof or something. Roof Shingles repair [roofshinglesrepair.com] is cheap anyway
    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      Overheard in a restaurant:

      "We're Crime, and Crime doesn't pay."

    • I don't know, if 'money mule' work is anything like 'coke mule' work, 33k is still a lot to swallow. Not to mention a whole bunch of quarters to fish out of the toilet later. Oh, well I guess you could roll up 330 hundred dollar bills, but still, doesn't sound comfortable at all, geez.
  • Money Mule Groups (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:06PM (#33754560)

    After posting my email address publicly on careerbuilder.com, I started getting lots of emails advertising money mule positions. Here's one of their websites [centrumusa-group.net], in case you wanted to know what these groups are like.

    • by plover (150551) *

      To me it looks pretty much like a lot of legitimate web sites. Vague sales pitches, trying to hook customers to buyers, but nothing was screaming "shady" out loud at me, anyway. And their English is good. How did you discover they are money mules? Did you contact them and that's when you learned what the deal was?

      • by vlueboy (1799360)

        Interesting. I had concluded the site was fake for my reply to the GP --I had only noticed that their "about us" page and their root index page recycle the content almost fully. Also, it was odd to see no stock photos of blisful temps that legit sites have.

        I looked around and found these reasons for legitimacy:

        * I missed the list of postings
        * Area code 585 and an 800 number. Normally phones aren't available at all, specially a real company name.
        * Listed names that google confirms have linked in and other pa

        • by plover (150551) *

          I even clicked on one of their projects, and it seemed ordinary enough.

          I'm wondering now if perhaps they completely lifted the content from another site. That'd be one way to not worry about the language differences, and to provide a realistic front.

          If I cared more, I'd google around looking for duplicates.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vlueboy (1799360)

      After posting my email address publicly on careerbuilder.com, I started getting lots of emails advertising money mule positions.

      I hear you. It is a annoying that so many +75k job offers [fake salary even if the job were real] completely unrelated to my career follow two principles:

      * Taking advantage of our assumption [we are all naive at some point] that all "employers" and "jobs" there are authenticated, which is the whole reason we all fork over a phone, email address and tons of details that facebook would LOVE to data mine

      * They're making enough scam-cash to profit despite $400-$600/month fees that job boards charge employers f

  • by biryokumaru (822262) <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:06PM (#33754562)
    People like this are going to make it increasingly difficult for legitimate students to come over here.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      There are no "legitimate" students. They're all terrorists [slashdot.org].

      Curiosity will get you flagged

    • by maxume (22995)

      Only if people are ridiculous reactionaries over it, it is a few dozen people out of thousands, and the amounts of money are large, but not particularly significant (in comparison to say, the holdings of a typical NYC bank).

      • by biryokumaru (822262) <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:36PM (#33754722)
        Americans acting like "ridiculous reactionaries!?" Never!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by interkin3tic (1469267)

          1. That's all nationalities, ass
          2. It's not all citizens, it's politicians who like to look tough on crimes but want to avoid the liabilities that come with cracking down on some of the really big white collar criminals.

          • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            1. That's all nationalities, ass

            I seem to recall this rather ridiculous reactionary period in American history where a lot of people started ordering "freedom fries" and had a disdain for all things French. Perhaps you remember too... it was back when France refused to send troops to Iraq to look for those still-not-found WMDs.

            Perhaps the Americans really could have used the French in Iraq. Maybe those WMDs would have been found by now. Oh, and don't forget Poland!

            • "Oh, and don't forget Poland!" The Germans won't now that they are unified again :o)
            • 1. The "freedom fries" were only in the cafeteria of a government building.
              2. The French foreign policy since WWII has been basically, "see what the Americans do, then take the opposite side." Look up Gaullism sometime.
              3. Anti-French attitudes are historically valid. They're a bunch of self-interested assholes, and I'm someone who generally likes the French.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arth1 (260657)

      Why would bright and honest students want to study here? The education level and challenges tend to be higher in good overseas universities.
      I can see that for some, it may be attractive to pay a small fortune to go to a US university and sail through to an easy degree, but then again, a US degree isn't worth much anymore, at least not outside the US.

      If I were to hire you, you'd do much better to include a reference to something you'd published than your degree, unless you went to a university you cannot bu

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Dodgy G33za (1669772)
        Dunno what it is like in the US, but in Australia we have a large overseas student population since they tend to get residency when they complete their courses. Used to apply for just about any course run by any shonky provider but they have tightened it recently. Not that I am saying it is a bad policy - getting bright people migrating once they have reached working age is actually a pretty smart way to run migration.
      • You, sir, are an ignorant moron. US universities are the best in the world, bar none. The fact that you have this negative attitude towards all things American doesn't change that fact. I live overseas, and the lines are long to get into a US university, any university. There are advertisements on buses guaranteeing a place in an American university, if you'll just buy their product. I'd like to hear a list of foreign universities that are better than their US counterparts. Ready? Go!
    • Wait... bad people make things hard for good people? Holy shit!
  • Keyser Söze was not among the suspects --- move along just a hedge move along ---

  • by Anonymous Coward

    419 scams/Advance Fee Fraud - Nigeria/West Africa
    Bots, Trojans, Crimeware, E-Crime - Eastern Europeans
    Financial Fraud, Pyramid Schemes, GRQ/WFH Scams, email spam - United States
    Email Spam, counterfeit products - China

    i know stereotypes are supposed to be bad but there is definitely a pattern appearing
    is it the culture ? education ? DNA ?

    why do certain countries citizens seem to be attracted towards certain types of crime ?
    the amount of effort they put in its such a shame they couldnt create the next Ebay or

    • by symes (835608) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:38PM (#33754732) Journal
      Communities of expertise - once a few people get going, networks develop, success motivates others, and so on. Just like banking tends to be highly localised in a few places.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Well, it's similar to how certain countries have better presence for certain businesses than others.

      i.e. Outsourcing / back office / call centers - India
      Electronics - Japan, South Korea
      Cars - Germany, Japan
      etc

      Once an ecosystem is in place for a given LoB, more people will join it. Weather it's legal or illegal depends entirely on how strict the laws are and what opportunities exist as alternative.

    • Pyramid Schemes, GRQ/WFH Scams

      And the vast majority of these are running out of Utah. Utah is like the Nigeria of the US, the regulation must be especially lax there.

  • They're all indicted? How do you indict someone still "at large"? Doesn't that just mean there's an arrest warrant out for them?

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Indictment means that they went before a grand jury rather than the prosecutor filing papers directly with the court. I'm not sure that in practice that there's really that much difference as a good attorney can indict pretty much anybody. If they fail to get their indictment you can be pretty sure that the person is completely innocent.
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @09:34PM (#33755036)

      An indictment is something you have to get in "capital, or otherwise infamous crimes," according to the 5th amendment. It often happens after arrest, but does not have to. Without an indictment, such a crime cannot go to court. It is a laugh test, basically. Fairly low standard of evidence (legally sufficient evidence and reasonable cause to believe) but makes sure people don't get dragged to court for a major crime if things are flimsy.

      Most states don't do indictments except in serious cases, but the feds do them for everything. Had a friend sit on a federal grand jury and they get an indictment for every single illegal immigration case. Never mind they are always 100% straight forward, they still get an indictment. The Feds don't bring something to trial without getting an indictment, even trivial stuff. Just how they do it.

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @09:16PM (#33754914)
    These crimes have serious penalties:

    30 years in prison; fine of $1,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss; and restitution

    20 years in prison; fine of $500,000 or twice the amount laundered; and restitution

    15 years in prison; fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss; and restitution

    10 years in prison; fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss; and restitution

    The charges are bank fraud, wire fraud, false use of passports and false use of identification.

    Plus, check out the FBI Cyber branch logo, obviously inspired by "The Matrix": http://newyork.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel10/images/nyfo093010_5.jpg [fbi.gov]

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by furgle (1825812)
      Well the Internet IS serious business.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Though the falling 0's and 1's were first popularized in The Matrix, hackers have been using the falling 0's and 1's for years and years before that.
    • by awinnenb (1907486)
      Side note: God, that logo is creepy. I'm sure it's *intended* to be liberty trumping the matrix, but it really looks like "the United States is the Matrix."
  • It's really great that the FBI has finally caught up to these botnet syndicates, and this is now regular police work. I'm glad to be paying for it with my taxes.

    When will the FBI get serious about phishing?

  • This is what the FBI should be doing about online crime - following the money and taking down the people handling it.

    The only problem is that these are the small fish. They haven't yet reached the people at the top. But they'll know who they are.

  • Why do people say "the Ukraine" and "the Netherlands"? You don't say "the Russia" or "the Spain".

    • As in The United States.

      It is MULTIPLE Netherlands (lowlands). You might also know of the country name Holland? WRONG. Holland is just two provinces in The Netherlands. North and South Holland. The various provindes joined up and became The Netherlands. Sort of like Great Britain or indeed the USA.

      Russia and Spain are organized as "simple" countries. There is only ONE Russia and ONE Spain.

    • Why do people say "the Ukraine" and "the Netherlands"? You don't say "the Russia" or "the Spain".

      For the same reason people say "the Bronx" and Brooklyn.

    • by xaxa (988988)

      "The Ukraine" is incorrect, it was short for "The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic", but the country is now called "Ukraine".

      "The Netherlands" means "The Low Lands" (nether=low in English). Compare "The United States/Kingdom/Arab Emirates".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I met quite a few people here in LA who claim to do similar online crimes (identity theft). What I find a funny coincidence is that they are all Easter European (majority Russians) but they seem to make GOOD money. Always dressed in the most expensive brands with the latest gadgets and 60k+ cars.

    There are a couple of Russian black market websites that you need to be verified by three other people to join. You can buy anything from emailing lists to bank accounts. They will usually buy black AMEX for less th

    • ...but they seem to make GOOD money. Always dressed in the most expensive brands with the latest gadgets and 60k+ cars.

      Unlike the local criminals who always stock up at Goodwill and buy cars at junkyards, right? :)

  • Zeus.
    Trojan.

    THIS IS GREEK MYTHOLOGY!!!

    (and, of course, madness and blasphemy in its context)

  • I've barely started hearing about the whole zeus infection a few months ago and the FBI is already taking them out left and right. Why, after over 2 years, can't they find the assholes writing that fake antivirus crap that I have to remove from my customers' computers every day? I mean sure, I'm making a ton of money off the repair bills, but it's annoying and absolutely absurd that it's gone on this long! Does anyone know what's going on with that one?
  • I am more concerned about how easy it was for the to get into this country with fake passports. I mean, after 9/11 you would think it would be a little more secure. Now I bet we have tons of terrorists in here using the exact same method...sigh

If Machiavelli were a hacker, he'd have worked for the CSSG. -- Phil Lapsley

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