01 November 2004
United States Breaks International Identity-Theft Ring
Online crime scheme links United States, Russia,
U.S. law enforcement agencies say they have shut down an international
crime ring engaged in identity theft and credit card fraud with
the indictment of 19 individuals linked to http://www.shadowcrew.com
An October 28 press release from the U.S. Department of Justice
describes the ring's Web site, Shadowcrew, as "one of the largest
illegal online centers" for illegitimate identification and credit
information. The Web site had approximately 4,000 members engaged
in stealing and trafficking in stolen credit cards, debit cards,
bank account numbers and falsified identify documents.
The Justice Department alleges that Shadowcrew members bought
and sold about 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers and caused
losses to merchants, banks and others in excess of $4 million.
"These individuals operated a virtual trading post for stolen
identity and financial information," said U.S. Attorney for the
District of New Jersey Christopher Christie. "They were international
in their reach and we are pleased to say they are out of business.
We look forward to hunting down and prosecuting more operators
like them to spare consumers the nightmare of identify theft."
Suspects named in the indictment are from several regions of the
United States, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Moscow.
The text of the DOJ press release follows:
U.S. Department of Justice
Thursday, October 28, 2004
NINETEEN INDIVIDUALS INDICTED IN INTERNET 'CARDING' CONSPIRACY
-- Shadowcrew Organization Called 'One-Stop Online Marketplace
For Identity Theft'
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General John Ashcroft, Assistant Attorney
General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney
Christopher Christie of the District of New Jersey and United States
Secret Service Director W. Ralph Basham today announced the indictment
of 19 individuals who are alleged to have founded, moderated and
operated "www.shadowcrew.com" - one of the largest illegal online
centers for trafficking in stolen identity information and documents,
as well as stolen credit and debit card numbers.
The 62-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Newark,
New Jersey today, alleges that the 19 individuals from across the
United States and in several foreign countries conspired with others
to operate "Shadowcrew," a website with approximately 4,000 members
that was dedicated to facilitating malicious computer hacking and
the dissemination of stolen credit card, debit card and bank account
numbers and counterfeit identification documents, such as drivers'
licenses, passports and Social Security cards. The indictment alleges
a conspiracy to commit activity often referred to as "carding" -
the use of account numbers and counterfeit identity documents to
complete identity theft and defraud banks and retailers.
The indictment is a result of a year-long investigation undertaken
by the United States Secret Service, working in cooperation with
the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey, the
Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal
Division of the Department of Justice, and other U.S. Attorneys'
offices and law enforcement agencies. The undercover investigation
led to the arrests of 21 individuals in the United States on criminal
complaints earlier this week. Additionally, several individuals
were arrested in foreign countries in coordination with the domestic
The indictment charges that the administrators, moderators, vendors
and others involved with Shadowcrew conspired to provide stolen
credit card numbers and identity documents through the Shadowcrew
marketplace. The account numbers and other items were allegedly
sold by approved vendors who had been granted permission to sell
by operators and moderators of the Shadowcrew site after completing
a review process. Shadowcrew members allegedly trafficked in at
least 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers and caused total losses
in excess of $4 million dollars. Victims of "carding" can include
banks and credit card companies, which often suffer significant
financial losses due to fraud, as well as individuals whose identities
and credit histories are damaged by such identity theft.
"Identity theft carries a heavy price, both in the damage to individuals
whose identities are stolen and the enormous cost to America's
businesses," said Attorney General Ashcroft. "This indictment strikes
at the heart of an organization that is alleged to have served
as a one-stop marketplace for identity theft. The Department of
Justice is committed to taking on those who deal in identity theft
or fraud, whether they act online or off."
"Identity theft by organized groups like Shadowcrew is a particularly
insidious crime," said Assistant Attorney General Wray. "Victims
have their identities stolen and their credit ratings ruined. Identity
theft defrauds banks and businesses of millions of dollars every
year, endangering economic security and undermining consumer confidence.
As today's indictment and the recent arrests in the Shadowcrew
case demonstrate, the Department will use every available law enforcement
tool to protect victims from this kind of criminal activity and
to seek punishment for those responsible, wherever they are."
"These individuals operated a virtual trading post for stolen
identity and financial information," U.S. Attorney Christie said. "They
were international in their reach and we are pleased to say they
are out of business. We look forward to hunting down and prosecuting
more operators like them to spare consumers the nightmare of identify
"Information is the world's new currency," said Secret Service
Director W. Ralph Basham. "These suspects targeted the personal
and financial information of ordinary citizens as well as the confidential
and proprietary information of companies engaged in e-commerce."
The indictment alleges that Andrew Mantovani of Scottsdale, Arizona,
David Appleyard of Linwood, New Jersey, and Anatoly Tyukanov of
Moscow, Russia, conspired together and served as the administrators
of the Shadowcrew website, controlled the direction of the organization,
determined which individuals would be permitted to become members
and moderators, and were responsible for the administration, maintenance
and security of the servers upon which Shadowcrew was hosted. The
indictment alleges that these individuals were responsible for
creating and fostering the overall Shadowcrew marketplace.
The indictment further alleges that other Shadowcrew members,
including Jeremy Stephens of Charlotte, North Carolina; Brandon
L. Monchamp of Scottsdale, Arizona; Omar Dhanani of Fountain Valley,
California; and Marcelo Del Mazo of Buenos Aires, Argentina conspired
together, served as moderators for the website, and controlled
the posting of information relating to credit card and identity
Several of the individuals named above and additional members
of Shadowcrew who were charged in the indictment are further alleged
to have advertised and sold stolen credit card numbers, counterfeit
identification documents and other merchandise, and to have provided
the results of testing of illegal products offered by vendors on
the Shadowcrew site.
The indictment charges one count of conspiracy encompassing numerous
administrators, moderators and vendors on the Shadowcrew website.
The other 61 counts of the indictment charge various members of
the Shadowcrew organization with crimes including unlawful trafficking
in stolen credit card numbers and other access devices, unlawful
transfer of identification documents to facilitate unlawful conduct,
transferring false identification documents and unauthorized solicitation
to offer access devices. The charges carry penalties, upon conviction,
ranging from three to 15 years in prison.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains
only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges,
and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.