Feds accuse five men of largest U.S. hacking scheme

Cyberattacks against the Nasdaq, J.C. Penney, and others led to "hundreds of millions of dollars" in losses, say federal prosecutors.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Five men have been accused by the U.S. government of perpetrating the largest hacking scheme ever prosecuted in the United States.

Court documents revealed Thursday in federal court in New Jersey said the five men from Russia and Ukraine were able to hack into the computer systems at the Nasdaq, J.C. Penney, 7-Eleven, and JetBlue Airways, among other companies. Obtaining around 160 million credit and debit card numbers, the individuals allegedly were able to steal more than $300 million from at least three of the targeted companies, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

The hacking began in 2005 and lasted at least until the summer of 2012, according to federal prosecutors. Two of the accused hackers are in custody, while three others are still considered on the run. Four co-conspirators, including two in the U.S., have also been cited in the charges, according to news site NJ.com.

The defendants allegedly visited the stores of certain retailers to discover any holes in their payment systems. They were also allegedly able to install software on some of the company's computer systems, opening up a back door into the systems. The accused men made their money by selling the credit and debit card numbers, prosecutors said.

The U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey is expected to reveal more details at a news conference scheduled for later in the day on Thursday.

Corrected 9:25 a.m. PT: An earlier version of this story incorrectly included MasterCard as one of the companies affected, based on a Reuters report. MasterCard was not cited in the indictment.