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German authorities nab international phishing gang

Let's go phishing - not

The BKA (opens in new tab), the German federal crime office, have arrested members of a suspected international phishing gang.

The BKA claims (opens in new tab)to have stopped the German-Lithuanian gang as its members were about to launch their criminal activity by spamming phishing emails and distributing Trojan horses that would have stolen passwords and TANs (single-use TransAction Numbers) from users of online banking services.

TANs are relatively unknown in the UK - the last time I saw them here was with First-e, the European online bank, which shut up shop in the UK in the early noughties when not enough punters signed up.

They're more common in France and Germany, though, which leads me to suspect that the phishers were targeting German e-bank service users.

According to Sophos (opens in new tab), German police, who have been investigating the case since December 2005, searched six flats in Frankfurt, Wetzlar, Stauffenberg, Lich and Allendorf, in their hunt for evidence.

The gang are reported to have opened a plethora of bank accounts using false names and addresses, and planned to transfer stolen money to Eastern Europe.

Graham Cluley (opens in new tab) (fx: doffs hat - for it is he), Sophos' senior technology guru, said that the German police should be applauded for arresting these men before the alleged criminal plot was put into action.

"The potential rewards for Internet crime are high, and we are seeing organised international gangs becoming more sophisticated in the ways in which they attempt to steal information from online banking users," he said.

"Computer crime authorities around the world need to work closely with each other to break these criminal gangs apart and bring them to justice," he added...