The U.S. government has accused five men of perpetrating the largest hacking scheme ever prosecuted in the United States.
Federal court documents released in New Jersey show the five men are from Russia and Ukraine. They were able to hack into the computer systems at the Nasdaq, Visa, J.C. Penney, 7-Eleven, and JetBlue Airways, among other companies. Around 160 million credit and debit card numbers were compromised and authorities say the individuals, allegedly, were able to steal more than $300 million from at least three of the targeted companies.
The hacking began in 2005 and lasted at least until the summer of 2012, according to federal prosecutors. Two of the accused hackers are in custody, while three others are still considered on the run. Four co-conspirators, including two in the U.S., have also been cited in the charges, according to news site NJ.com.
The defendants allegedly visited the stores of certain retailers to discover any holes in their payment systems. They were also allegedly able to install software on some of the company's computer systems, opening up a back door into the systems. The accused men made their money by selling the credit and debit card numbers, prosecutors said.
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