JP Morgan hit by largest hack of customer data

Gery Shalon, Joshua Samuel Aaron and Ziv Orenstein were charged in a 23-count indictment over alleged crimes targeting a dozen companies, including nine financial services companies and media outlets, reports The Times.

JPMorgan Chase confirmed yesterday that it had been attacked and said that it was co-operating with law enforcement officials “in bringing the criminals to justice”. Other companies to admit they were victims include E*Trade Financial, TD Ameritrade and Dow Jones, which is owned by News Corporation, the parent company of The Times.

“By any measure, the data breaches at these firms were breathtaking in scope and in size,” Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the southern district of New York, said. He added that the alleged crimes showed that the crime of hacking had moved into a new phase. “It is no longer hacking merely for a quick payout, but hacking to support a diversified criminal conglomerate. This was hacking as a business model.”

Prosecutors alleged that personal information had been stolen from more than 100 million customers between 2012 and last summer, including 83 million accounts at JP Morgan in what prosecutors called the largest theft of customer data from an American financial institution.

The stolen information was said to have been used in other schemes, including a “pump-and-dump” stock scam that netted tens of millions of dollars.

To artificially manipulate the trading volume and prices of dozens of stocks, Mr Shalon and Mr Aaron allegedly disseminated misleading, unsolicited messages by email that falsely touted the stock in order to trick others into buying. Then they sold their own holdings at artificially inflated prices.

Mr Shalon boasted to a co-conspirator about the schemes, saying after one trade that it was “a small step towards a large empire”, according to the indictment, adding that getting Americans to buy stocks was “like drinking freaking vodka in Russia”.

The men are also accused of running illegal online casinos and of stealing information from other internet gambling businesses. In addition, they allegedly ran an illegal payment processing service for criminals. Mr Shalom and a fourth defendant, Anthony Murgio, have been accused of running an illegal bitcoin exchange.

The gang laundered their criminal proceeds through at least 75 shell companies and bank and brokerage accounts around the world, prosecutors claimed.

Lawyers for the men could not be reached for comment. Mr Shalon, 31, and Mr Orenstein, 40 were arrested in Israel in July and are awaiting extradition. Mr Murgio, from Florida, was also arrested in July. Mr Aaron, 31, a US citizen who has lived in Moscow and Tel Aviv, has not been arrested and is thought to be in eastern Europe.