(KMOV.com) -- Prosecutors have broken up a massive ring of computer hackers. It was a group so sophisticated they stole at least 160 million credit and debit card numbers—the largest hacking scheme ever prosecuted in the US.
“The scheme was so sophisticated and brought together some of the most skilled and experienced hackers in the world,” said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
The indictments were announced in New Jersey where Fishman says five suspects are charged- four Russians and one Ukranian.
They’re accused of penetrating over a dozen major companies including J.C. Penney, Jetblue, 7-Eleven, Nasdaq and Heartland Payment Dystems.
“They then sold those card numbers to individuals who ultimately used them to cause losses of at least $300 million,” Fishman said.
The indictment states the scheme went on for seven years, with the hackers selling each U.S. card number for about $10.
Consumers are not required to pay fraudulent charges, so some of the retailers are the ones on the hook for the losses.
Prosecutors describe the crime as the cutting edge of financial fraud.
“Those who have expertise to break into our computer networks threaten our economic well being, our privacy and ultimately our national security,” Fishman says.
The U.S. attorney says two of the suspects are in custody - and the investigation is continuing.
The other three suspects are still fugitives.