LAS VEGAS - Three separate, unsealed indictments and dozens of suspects – including five Las Vegas men – are part of one complex criminal case.
The suspects used names like "Bad Man" and "Doctor Sex", but federal authorities say the suspects can't hide behind their computer screens any longer. The defendants' alleged crimes include identity theft and counterfeit credit card trafficking.
Rob Tyree is vice president of Fiberhub and a computer security expert. He says identity theft is a problem that allows hackers to buy, sell, and trade Social Security numbers and credit card information.
"Anytime you are using technology to perpetrate a crime, you're leaving behind footprints that can be followed in most cases," he said. "There are quite a few online market places where these cyber criminals will essentially get together."
The U.S. Attorney's office says "Operation: Open Market" uncovered 50 fraudsters who are alleged members of "Carder.Su" – a criminal organization that engages in trafficking and makes counterfeit documents, fake debit and fake credit cards.
"Carders, it's kind of a slang term in the hacking community for people who specialize in stealing credit card details," Tyree said.
Anytime you go online, don't let your guard down. Criminals know they can trick honest people into giving up personal details by posing as banks or businesses.
"The vast majority of the time, when a person's personal details are compromised in some way, it's because they voluntarily gave those details to the hacker," Tyree said.
Authorities say the financial damage from the operation is huge. Suspect Michael Lofton of Las Vegas was released from custody on his own recognizance Friday.
Others remain in custody and will appear before a judge Wednesday. Federal authorities are looking for 32 other suspects whose names for the time being are redacted.