Federal authorities on Wednesday charged close to 100 people living in the United States and Egypt in connection with a phishing operation that plundered nearly $1.5 million in bank funds from unsuspecting victims.
The takedown, codenamed "Operation Phish Phry," is one of the largest phishing busts in history, according to the FBI. About 50 individuals from California, Nevada and North Carolina, in addition to another 50 Egyptian citizens, were charged with computer fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.
The defendants targeted potentially thousands of account holders to steal the money, the FBI said. The bust is the first time that U.S. and Egyptian authorities have collaborated on a cybercrime case.
FBI Director Robert Mueller, speaking Wednesday in San Francisco as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, said that though this does not appear to be the case here, some phishing operations have darker motives than simply cash for their masterminds.
"Something that looks like an ordinary phishing scam may be an attempt by a terrorist group to raise funding for an operation," he said.