Turkish police have arrested 17 people who allegedly hacked into internet banking accounts and stole $300,000.
The men are accused of collaborating with three Russian cybercriminals, who are believed to have provided them with usernames and passwords stolen from computers they infected with spyware, Turkish authorities said.
The Russian hackers allegedly sold the login details of thousands of Turkish online banking customers for 10 percent of the money stolen, police said.
The authorities closed in on the group after hundreds of people complained about suspicious withdrawals from their online bank accounts in January, according to published reports.
Officers from the Izmir organized crime bureau discovered the IP addresses of the computers making the fraudulent transactions. Agents then made simultaneous raids across Turkey.
"In recent years, there has been steady growth in the number of viruses and trojans written to steal banking information from web surfers," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "The Turkish authorities should be applauded for looking into this case so speedily, but phishing and spyware is a global problem, and requires a global clampdown."
Last December, a Russian bank chief who coordinated an international identity theft operation was jailed for six years. The 42-year-old former head of Moscow City Bank helped run a criminal gang that stole millions of dollars from British, American and Spanish account holders.