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Cracking Down on Cyber Crime

Globe inside a laptop

It’s the season for online shopping and spending, and you’ll be glad to know that we’ve stepped up our fight against one of the most serious cyber security threats just in time for the holidays. 

That threat involves what are called ‘botnets’—armies of personal computers taken over by cyber criminals and used on the sly to commit all kinds of mischief, from identity theft to denial of service attacks to massive spam campaigns. Bah, humbug. 

In June, we announced the first phase of Operation Bot Roast, which pinpointed more than a million victimized computers and charged a number of individuals around the country with various cyber-related crimes.

Today, we’re announcing part two of this operation, with more results: 

  • Three new indictments, including two this past month. In one case, we uncovered a denial of service attack on a major university in the Philadelphia area and then knocked out much of the botnet by disrupting its ability to talk to other computers.
  • Two previously charged criminals who pled guilty, including a California man who is a well known member of the botnet underground.
  • The sentencing of three others, including a pair of men who launched a major phishing scheme targeting a Midwest bank that led to millions of dollars in losses.

Our investigations spanned the country, including our field offices in Cincinnati, Detroit, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Sacramento, and Washington, D.C., which worked closely with a great many partners, including the Secret Service and Immigrations Customs Enforcement.

And these cases spanned the globe, involving information sharing and coordination with international colleagues like the New Zealand police. This week, authorities there conducted a search of the residence of the supposed ringleader of an elite global botnet coding group who goes by the cyber name of “AKILL.”

The collective toll revealed so far in our operation has been significant, both at a national level and a personal level. To date, we’ve uncovered more than $20 million in economic losses. In one case, a victim confirmed damages of nearly $20,000 in denial of service attacks via botnets. 


  - How to Protect Your Computer 
  - Botnet Consumer Alert
  - OnGuard Botnet Guide
  - Home Computer Security Guidelines
  - Botnet Tips
  - FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center

Our work continues, but not without a familiar message for every consumer and computer user: please practice safe cyber security. At a minimum, that means using and updating anti-virus software, installing a firewall, not opening unknown e-mail attachments, and using strong passwords. There are plenty more tips and guidelines here for you to learn more (see the inset box). 

And, as always, we encourage you to report cyber frauds and attacks to your local police, to your local FBI office, or to our Internet Crime Complaint Center

For more information: 
- National Press Release
- First Botnet Takedown
- FBI Cyber Investigations

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