WASHINGTON-The U.S. Secret Service arrested six alleged computer hackers and seized more than 20 computer systems during an undercover fraud investigation that encompassed seven states.
Agents targeted people using the Internet and a private bulletin board system to allegedly deal in stolen cellular phone and credit-card data valued at millions of dollars. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association estimates wireless fraud costs the industry $1.32 million every day.
The investigation began in January when an undercover agent advertised on the Internet that the Celco 51 computer bulletin board catered to people involved in unauthorized computer intrusion and fraud, including cellular phone fraud. Agents operated the bulletin board in Bergen County, N.J., and called the sting “Operation Cybersnare.”
Two Texas men were arrested on complaints of conspiring to break into the computer system of an Oregon cellular telephone company. A Huntington Beach, Calif., man is accused of trafficking in cloned cellular telephone equipment and stolen access devices used to program cellular telephones.
Two Brooklyn, N.Y., men were arrested; one is accused of trafficking in stolen access devices used to program cellular telephones, the other is being held on complaints of possessing and trafficking hardware that can be used to obtain unauthorized access to telecommunications services. A Detroit man was arrested on a complaint of trafficking in unauthorized access devices used to program cellular telephones.
All six men face possible prison time; parole has been abolished in the federal system, according to the New Jersey Public Information Office. The accused are scheduled to make an appearance Sept. 19 in Newark U.S. District Court.
Agents also obtained search warrants for computer hardware and data located in New Jersey, Virginia, Connecticut and Alaska.
“We salute the U.S. Secret Service for taking the offensive against wireless thieves to protect our customers and the integrity of our industry,” said Tom McClure, fraud task force chairman of CTIA.