Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday announced the arrests of 24 suspected hackers who targeted bank accounts and credit card users.
The arrests come after a two-year investigation in which the agents posed as hackers on Internet forums and watched as hackers swapped methods for breaching data security walls while creating fake credit cards that could be used for in-person and online purchases.
According to officials they were able to stop $205 million in losses for more than 411,000 compromised consumer credit and debit cards in the United States.
Of the 24 arrests 11 were in the United States while the remaining 13 occurred in Britain, Japan and other regions of the world.
Not only did FBI agents monitor online conversations, they actually contacted multiple bank and credit card representatives and showed them how to repair security breaches.
All 24 of the arrested men were between the ages of 18 to 25 and each suspected hacker could receive 40 years or more in prison if convicted on conspiracy to commit wire fraud and access device fraud.
The forum which FBI agents monitored was called “Carder Profit” and was actually created by FBI officials in June 2010 so they could attract and then monitor financial hackers.
Hackers using the forum each appeared to have their own specialties, for example the hacker by the name of xVisceral sold remote access tools known as RATS which would allow users to spy on computers and Web cameras. A single RATS program sold for $50 per copy.
Credit card fraud costs billions of dollars each year around the globe and is a growing epidemic thanks to online chat rooms and advanced hackers.