The Manhattan District Attorney has indicted 17 individuals and one corporation on multi-million dollar fraud charges related to global trafficking in stolen credit card numbers, cybercrime and identity theft.
The 173-count indictment charges that from 2001 through 2007, the defendants participated in a multi-national, Internet-based criminal enterprise - the "Western Express Cybercrime Group" - dedicated to trafficking in stolen credit card numbers and other personal identifiers.
The District Attorney's office alleges that the Group is responsible for over $4 million worth of identified credit card fraud, and trafficked in well over 95,000 stolen credit card numbers.
The indictment marks the second phase in a joint two-year investigation by the Manhattan DA's Identity Theft Unit and the United States Secret Service.
The charge sheet alleges that the defendants used Internet-based technologies such as instant messaging and digital currencies to transfer and launder funds and conceal their identities from the authorities.
The investigation revealed that, in a four year period, over $35 million flowed through numerous bank accounts set up by Western Express. About $4 million of these funds were generated by the company's illegal cheque cashing business, which was the subject of an earlier indictment. Approximately $20 million flowed through the company's Egold digital currency accounts. It is also estimated that Western Express purchased approximately $15 million worth of Webmoney digital currency.