A US-led investigation into online fraud yielded arrests in eight different countries, after law enforcers set up a site to monitor would-be criminals.
New York investigators said on Tuesday that 24 people across four continents had been arrested as part of probe into online financial fraud.
The two-year operation saw agents posing as hackers on an internet forum they had set up to monitor users swapping ways to commit fraud, including methods of breaking through online security walls.
The website was configured to allow officers to record discussion threads and track the internet addresses of users.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that 11 people had been arrested in the US, with 13 arrests made elsewhere. Six were arrested in Britain, two in Bosnia, and one each in Bulgaria, Norway and Germany for offences allegedly committed in those countries. Two others were detained in Italy and Japan on international warrants.
The probe, named "Operation Card Shop," targeted "sophisticated, highly organized cyber criminals involved in buying and selling stolen identities, exploited credit cards, counterfeit documents, and sophisticated hacking tools," said the FBI's assistant New York director-in-charge, Janice Fedarcyk.
The FBI said acts of fraud against more than 400,000 possible victims had been prevented. The potential losses totaled some $205 million (165 million euros), officials said.
US Attorney Preet Bharara said the investigation had unearthed "a breathtaking spectrum of cyber schemes and scams."
rc/slk (AFP, AP, Reuters)