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Nine charged in press release breaches, stock trading scheme

Grant Gross | Aug. 12, 2015
Nine people face criminal charges in the U.S. for allegedly hacking three press release distributors and stealing yet-to-be-published announcements in a stock trading scheme that authorities say generated about US$30 million in illegal profits.

The traders created wish lists for the hackers of their desired upcoming press releases from Marketwired and PR Newswire. Many of the trades made by the defendants occurred on the same day, but before the press releases were made public, resulting in a "flurry" of trading activity around a stolen press release, the DOJ said.

Among the companies targeted in the scheme: Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, Home Depot, and Verisign.

The wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud counts carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense.  The securities fraud conspiracy count carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss.  

The securities fraud counts carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine, or twice the gain or loss. The money laundering conspiracy count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, or twice the value of the funds involved in the illegal transfers. 

The computer fraud counts carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss.  The aggravated identity theft counts carry a mandatory prison term of two years.

 

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