Three European men have been charged in the United States with creating and distributing a destructive computer virus.
The 'Gozi' virus was used to access personal bank information and netted millions of dollars between 2005 and 2011. The scheme, thought to be one of the most financially destructive yet seen, is alleged to have begun in Europe and later spread to the US, where at one point more than 190 NASA computers were infected. The FBI worked with law enforcement agencies in a number of European countries – including the UK – to investigate and track down the scheme.
25 year-old Nikita Kuzmin, a 25-year-old Russian national, pleaded guilty to the charges in May 2011. Proceedings are under way to extradite the other two men – 28 year-old Romanian Mihai Ionut Paunescu and 27-year-old Latvian Deniss Calovskis.
US Attorney Preet Bharara says that the men ran a "modern-day bank robbery ring, that required neither a gun or a mask." Kuzmin and his co-defenders – nicknamed Virus and Miami – have netted at least $50m (£32m) in illegal profits using the virus.
Mr Bharara added "This case should serve as a wake-up call to banks and consumers alike because cybercrime remains one of the greatest threats we face, and it is not going away anytime soon."