New Zealand Questions Hacker Kingpin

November 30th, 2007 - 11:54 pm ICT by admin  

Police questioned the suspected teenage kingpin of an international cyber crime network accused of infiltrating 1.3 million computers and skimming millions of dollars from victims’ bank accounts, officials said.

Working with the FBI and police in the Netherlands, New Zealand police raided the home of the 18-year-old in the North Island city of Hamilton and took him into custody along with several computers, said Martin Kleintjes, head of the police electronic crime center.

He was later released without charge after being questioned, though police said he was still part of the investigation.

The case is part of an international crackdown on hackers who allegedly assume control of thousands of computers and amass them into centrally controlled clusters known as botnets. The hackers can then use the computers to steal credit card information, manipulate stock trades and even crash industry computers, authorities say.

Eight people have been indicted, pleaded guilty or have been convicted since the investigation started in June. Thirteen additional warrants have been served in the U.S. and overseas in the investigation.

The FBI estimates that more than one million computers have been infected and puts the combined economic losses at more than $20 million.

The New Zealander, known by his cyber identification as “AKILL,” was “head of an international spybot ring that has infiltrated computers round the world with their malicious software,” Kleintjes told National Radio.

Kleintjes told The Associated Press the teenager, whose name was not released because he was under 18 when the alleged offenses began, was cooperating with investigators in telling them how the crime system works.

“We have seized a number of computers and are talking with him,” he said. “We are going for evidence and the case will develop from there. We’re still in the early stages of the investigation.”

Detective Inspector Peter Devoy, the senior investigator in the case, said the…

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