East European cyber-police take down phishing ring

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The Bulgarian National Services to Combat Organized Crime (NSCOC) agency has arrested an ring of eight individuals who allegedly operated an international phishing operation.

NSCOC arrested the syndicate in raids conducted week in three Bulgarian cities. The group allegedly is part of an international criminal network that commits financial fraud and steals personal data online.

Known as the MBAM Gang (Microsoft Billing Account Management) by Microsoft investigators, the group allegedly spoofed emails to make them appear as if they were sent by MSN customer service representatives. The group also allegedly created dozens of fake internet web pages that mimicked the design, logo and trademark of official MSN pages.

By launching 46 attacks on 43 compromised servers located in 11 countries, the group allegedly put internet users' personal information at risk by inviting them to update personal financial data such as credit card, personal identification and verification numbers.

The stolen financial data was allegedly used to make purchases and receive express money transfers for more than $50,000 on behalf of credit card owners from the U.S., Germany and the U.K.

Microsoft said it referred the matter and evidence of the attacks for further investigation to Bulgarian authorities. Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's associate general counsel for Microsoft Europe, said: "This is an important step forward in the combat against those who prey on internet users. Microsoft believes vigorous criminal enforcement against phishers is essential to show cyber-criminals that there are consequences to their illegal actions, and we are pleased to collaborate with law enforcement agencies around the world in this effort."

Copyright © SC Magazine, US edition

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