Criminal Charges Filed Against Ringleaders of Phishing Scam

Gretchen Gallen
LONDON – For the first time in cyber history, a group of alleged "phishers" have been charged with running an elaborate scam that tricked consumers into revealing their personal banking information.

The charges mark the first time there has been been a criminal case filed against the accused leaders of a phishing gang. Several other members of the gang have escaped and are wanted for questioning, said Britain's National High-Tech Crime Unit.

The four suspects under arrest are all of Eastern European origin and have been accused of defrauding numerous online banking institutions and raiding the accounts of hundreds of customers. Authorities are calling the scam one of the largest and most sophisticated phishing organizations yet uncovered.

The suspects, two men and two women, appeared at a hearing in the Bow Street Magistrates Court Thursday. According to the Financial Times, all four of them were refused bail.

The suspects, Olga Borissova of Russia, Vitalij Kirilenko of the Ukraine, and Liiv Ravino and Teni Terje of Estonia were each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud financial institutions and a single laundering charge, according to reports.

They are scheduled for a hearing at Southwark Crown Court on Oct. 21.

According to the National High-Tech Crime Unit, phishing emails are becoming increasingly crafty in their ability to accurately reproduce the look and feel of legitimate websites and then lure customers to the sites via bogus emails with intent to extract personal identification information.