More than 80 people were arrested as part of a massive Eastern European computer virus scheme. Millions were stolen from American bank accounts by the hacker-ring, who were aided by "money mules," many of whom were college co-eds here on student visas. It's not quite Anna Chapman, but it'll do.
The ringleaders of the scheme used a computer virus, Zeus Trojan, to steal PIN numbers and then infiltrate bank accounts; the virus gave the perps access to the victim's computer activity once they clicked on a link or opened a file attached to a seemingly legitimate e-mail message. The hackers then transferred the ill gotten money into accounts opened by the "money mules," such as Kristina Svechinskaya, 21, who opened at least five bank accounts used to transfer $35,000 of the loot, according to Feds. "The mouse and the keyboard can be far more effective than the gun and the mask," said US Attorney Preet Bharara, inadvertantly stumbling upon the name of the next DangerDoom album.
Svechinskaya is one of nine young people arrested yesterday, but the "Russian brunette in calf-high boots and skin-tight jeans" has quickly become the poster child of the bust, both for her looks as well as her questionable role in it. Prosecutors said these ring members were the first wave of a "gathering threat" that targeted American financial systems, but defense lawyers countered that they barely knew what they were into: "They're just children who at worst were used by people much more sophisticated than they are," said defense lawyer Sarah Baumgartel. If Svechinskaya plays this right, maybe she can run for Russian Parliament next year!