U.S. DHS goes after Vietnamese hackers, identity thieves


One victim, Susan Higginbotham, of Bemidji, Minnesota, got as many as eight letters a day from banks telling her she'd just signed up as a customer. She also got bills from eBay for the fraudulent transactions, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune,

In November, Louisiana authorities working with ICE

The law enforcement operation, run out of ICE's Cyber Crimes Center in Washington, D.C., has been investigating the Vietnamese crime ring since Sept. 2009 in an action called Operation eMule, according to the affidavit, which is signed by DHS Special Agent Daniel Schwarz. "The criminal ring makes online purchases from e-commerce merchants using stolen credit card information and then utilizes an elaborate network of mules based in the United States," he wrote. The criminals get stolen credit or bank card numbers by hacking PCs or databases. In some cases, they simply buy the stolen personal information from underground online marketplaces.

The criminals involved in this operation get their orders via a secured Web site that is available only to "vetted members,' Schwartz said. The money at play in this criminal enterprise is "estimated to exceed hundreds of millions of dollars," he said.