This post has been updated with information from an amended criminal complaint filed Thursday afternoon.
Hackers allegedly targeted 15 financial institutions, including
"Cybercriminals penetrated some of our most trusted financial institutions as part of a global scheme that stole money and identities from people in the United States," New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a statement.
Eight men have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit identity theft. The group’s two leaders come from
The other compromised banks and financial services providers were Aon Hewitt, Automated Data Processing Inc., Electronic Payments Inc.,
In a criminal complaint, authorities allege that the defendants transferred money from victims' bank accounts to pre-paid debit cards. They took the debit cards to ATMs to cash them out or used them to make purchases across the country. Much of the money that was cashed out was wired to the two leaders.
Some of those debit cards were secured in the names of individuals who had their identities stolen by the defendants, the complaint says That allowed the group to file fraudulent tax returns in an attempt to obtain undeserved refunds.
An amended complaint, filed Thursday against the defendants who have yet to appear in court, offered more details. Using “a variety of unlawful means,” the group gained access to the login credentials of more than 130
One of the group's alleged leaders, 33-year-old Oleksiy Sharapka, had been previously imprisoned in the U.S. for a similar conspiracy. But he was deported to Ukraine amid his sentence, and he allegedly began the new scheme shortly after.