PITTSFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - A Berkshire County man was one of 24 people arrested in what authorities are calling the largest-ever international effort directed at the cyber crime known as "carding."
Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York , announced that Peter Ketchum was arrested Tuesday in Pittsfield; making him one of 11 people nationwide and two dozen worldwide arrested in the international crackdown.
According to Bharara, Ketchum's arrest was the result of a two-year undercover operation that was designed to find, investigate, and expose cyber criminals, and disrupt their activities.
The operation was designed to crack down on "carding"- a crime where in which the Internet is used to traffic in and exploit stolen personal financial information, such as stolen credit card and bank account information.
The FBI had set up a carding forum known as "Carder Profit," which allowed people participating in carding to buy, sell, and exchange goods and services. The Bureau monitored and recorded the discussion threads and private messages sent through the site. They then passed on this information to credit card companies, banks, and potential individual victims.
Federal prosecutors estimate that the entire operation could have protected 400,000 potential victims, and prevented more than $205 million in losses.
Ketchum (aka "IwearaMAGNUM") is the only suspect arrested in New England. Two others were arrested in New York, one in Georgia, one in Florida, one in Arizona, one in New Mexico, and one in Wisconsin. Three suspects, including two minors, were arrested in California.
Six of the 13 overseas arrests were in the United Kingdom, with two arrests in Bosnia, one in Bulgaria, one in Norway, one in Germany, one in Italy, and one in Japan.
Prosecutors say that Ketchum advertised several "drop" locations in cities across the United States (non-residences where people can send merchandise purchased with information obtained through carding). He's also accused of receiving and shipping "carded" merchandise such as sunglasses and air purifiers, as well as synthetic marijuana.
Ketchum will be brought before a judge at U.S. District Court in Springfield.