Late the week of March 16, federal authorities arrested 19 individuals in nine states for their involvement in Operation “Open Market,” an investigation into a transnational criminal organization operating principally out of Las Vegas. The operation’s members bought and sold stolen personal and financial information online and engaged in crimes such as identity theft and counterfeit credit card trafficking.
“The extent of the theft and sale of personal and financial information uncovered by this investigation is astonishing,” said U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden. “Electronic mediums have made it much easier for persons and groups to sell and trade stolen information and fraudulent documents nationally and internationally. We are working vigilantly with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute the persons who commit these types of crimes.”
Agents with the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested five people in Las Vegas Thursday, March 15, and another 14 people in California, Florida, New York, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and West Virginia. Their charges include racketeering, conspiracy, and production and trafficking in false identification documents and access device cards. A total of 50 individuals were charged in the investigation; however, the names of several defendants have been redacted and remain sealed because they have not yet been arrested.
“The indictments and arrests in this case are yet another example of how the Secret Service continues to promote the Department of Homeland Security’s mission of providing a safe, secure and resilient cyber environment,” said A.T. Smith, the Secret Service’s assistant director for investigations. “The successful partnerships fostered by the Secret Service’s electronic crimes task forces result in ground-breaking investigations such as Operation Open Market.”
“The actions of computer hackers and identity thieves not only harm countless innocent Americans, but the threat they pose to our financial system and global commerce cannot be understated,” said James Dinkins, executive associate director of ICE HSI. “The criminals involved in such schemes may think they can escape detection by hiding behind their computer screens here and overseas, but as this case shows, cyberspace is not a refuge from justice.”
This investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and HSI with substantial support provided by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Computer Crimes Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly M. Frayn and Andrew W. Duncan.
This law enforcement action was facilitated by President Obama’s Financial Fraud
Enforcement Task Force. The interagency Task Force wages aggressive and coordinated efforts to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The Task Force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement that collectively bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.
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All defendants named above, except those marked with **, have been arrested.