Major bank fraud ring broken up; alleged NASA hacker faces charges

2 Min Read

The Romanian police had a busy Wednesday, breaking up a major bank fraud ring and arresting another individual who is accused of breaking into major U.S. government and university servers.

According to news reports, the Romanian police, working along with the FBI, arrested 20 individuals who allegedly built cloned bank sites and then drained the accounts of users who were lured into logging in to them.

The cloned sites, which were deployed in Italy and Spain, looked and operated like the actual bank Websites, but they asked users questions that ultimately led to the divulging of personal bank details, according to Stefan Negrila, chief of the Romanian Police's organized crime division. Once obtained, the hackers allegedly used that information to access the real bank Websites and transfer or withdraw cash.

Nearly 100 police officers from special troops entered suspects' houses in major cities across Romania, the reports said. Investigators said the ring stole at least 350,000 euros.

In a separate case, police also arrested a Romanian resident accused of hacking into several U.S. government servers -- including NASA's -- and multiple university servers. The hacker had set up several servers in the United States, which he controlled from Romania and used to carry out the hacks, according to reports.

The hacks on NASA alone cost the space agency some $5 million, according to news reports. The accused attacker, Victor Faur, has previously been accused of breaking into computers at the U.S. Navy and Department of Energy between 2005 and 2006.

In a television interview, Faur reportedly said he made the hacks only to prove vulnerabilities in the key government systems, and that he did not expect to make any material gains. However, NASA was forced to rebuild its systems and temporarily had to change over to manual communications when the hack was discovered.

Faur previously was indicted for his alleged participation in a hacker group called the "Whitehat Team," whose goal was to break into the most secure systems in the world.

U.S. authorities have claimed $2 million in damages from the attack. Faur was charged with breaking into government computers last November. He has been indicted on 10 counts, including charges of conspiracy, unauthorized access to government computers, and causing intentional damage to computers. He will be brought to Los Angeles for trial after his Romanian proceedings conclude, authorities said.

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About the Author(s)

Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading


Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one of the top cyber security journalists in the US in voting among his peers, conducted by the SANS Institute. In 2011 he was named one of the 50 Most Powerful Voices in Security by SYS-CON Media.

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