Authorities in the United States rounded up 33 of the 53 U.S. defendants charged in the investigation, dubbed Operation Phish Phry, which targeted computer hackers who allegedly stole identity data from thousands of victims.
Another 47 defendants were charged in Egypt. The total number of defendants is the largest ever charged in a cybercrime investigation, the FBI said in a written statement,
The indictment unsealed Wednesday alleged the defendants in Egypt used e-mails made to look like they originated at a U.S. bank. Unwary recipients were sent to a Web site where they were asked to enter their account numbers and other personal data.
The U.S. defendants located in California, Nevada and North Carolina, allegedly opened accounts in which stolen funds were transferred and then withdrawn with a cut of the take wired to the Egyptians.
"This international phishing ring had a significant impact on two banks and caused huge headaches for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bank customers," said George Cordona, the acting U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.
The FBI said in a written statement that the investigation began in 2007 after the federal government launched a crackdown on cybercrimes aimed at financial institutions.