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SEC: Ukrainian hackers' investment fraud ring raked in millions in 'unprecedented' hack

Insider trading scam said to be largest of its kind

How much profit? Think of a number and double it

Estimates of how much the group may have profited from the scheme vary. The FBI, which describes the hack as the "largest known" of its kind, has guessed $30m. The SEC's estimate has grown to more than $100m.

To move the profits out of the US, the men allegedly routed it to a number of overseas shell companies that held offshore bank accounts for them, reportedly in Estonia.

The US businesses affected by the hacking attack cover a wide swath of the business world. More than 51 companies are named in the twin indictments.

Some are tech companies, including HP, NetApp, Oracle, SGI, Texas Instruments, and VMware. A great many more are in the retail, manufacturing, and consumer products industries, ranging from Boeing and Caterpillar to Clorox, Home Depot, Marriott International, RadioShack, Tesla Motors, and Weight Watchers.

The wire services who were the subjects of the hack, meanwhile, said they would review their security policies in light of the events.

"At PR Newswire, we take security very seriously and are dedicated to protecting our information and systems," the company said in a statement. "As cybersecurity threats continue to evolve, so will our Information Security practices."

Priced out of the market

If the nine defendants named on Monday are convicted, it could cost them dearly. The New York indictment charges them with securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, with a total of nine counts.

The New Jersey indictment, on the other hand, piles on an additional 23 charges. These include wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud; securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, both with and without the aid of a computer; fraud, "fraud related activity," and computer fraud; identity theft; and money-laundering conspiracy.

Many of the charges are felonies, and if the defendants were sentenced to consecutive terms, it would likely be enough to land them life in prison.

In addition, prosecutors have fingered substantial amounts of the defendants' property for asset forfeiture, including brokerage accounts and any and all property that can be linked to the crimes that can be found at all of the defendants' various home and business addresses.

Much of this has already been seized, including seventeen bank and brokerage accounts with a combined value of $6.5m, along with property with a total value of $5.5m.

Expect a lot more developments in this story as it unfolds over the coming months. Defendants are still being arraigned and court dates have not been set, but in a court filing, prosecutors indicated that they expected a lengthy trial. ®

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