Yesterday federal prosecutors unsealed a 23 count 68 page indictment of three men, Gery Shalon, Joshua Samuel Aaron and Ziv Orenstein on charges related to a massive and intricate list of cybercrimes including, security fraud, identity theft, computer hacking, wire fraud and money laundering that earned them hundreds of millions of dollars. Among the companies they are accused of hacking into are J. P. Morgan Chase, from which they stole personal information of 83 million people, E*Trade, Scottrade and Dow Jones. They are accused of using the stolen data to advance securities frauds in which they manipulated the price of the stocks. They also are accused of operating illegal online gambling websites from which they made millions of dollars every month and running their own financial operations by which they processed millions of dollars of illegal transactions for other criminals for a fee. Their money was laundered through more than 75 shell companies, banks and brokerage accounts around the world. The indictments trace back their criminal activities to 2007. Their actions were extremely complex and we can expect more and more details to emerge in the days and weeks ahead.
This case again emphasizes the fact that each of us is only as secure as the places with the weakest security that hold our personal information. However, many of the victims of the stock frauds the defendants are alleged to have committed became victims when they trusted emails that appeared to be legitimate urging them to invest in various stocks. The lesson is to never trust an email with a stock tip regardless of from whom it appears to come. Never invest in a stock until you have thoroughly and independently investigated it.