British police have arrested 19 alleged computer hackers accused of stealing $9.5 million – and probably much more – from personal bank accounts. Scotland Yard said members of its electronic crimes broke up a highly organized criminal network that used computer viruses to copy passwords and other personal data.
The hackers then transferred millions of pounds to bogus accounts that enabled them to “launder” the money. Senior officers said the initial theft estimate of $9.5 million is sure to grow as the investigation continues. Police rounded up the suspects – 15 men and four women – in a series of raids across London . All face possible charges of fraud, money laundering and illegal use of computers.
Detective Chief Inspector Terry Wilson said thousands of computers were hacked by a virus known as “Zeus” and other malicious programs. Although banks would repay their customers’ losses – “at considerable cost to the economy,” Wilson said – the scheme caused “immense personal anxiety and significant financial harm” to the innocent victims – Voanews