Hard Disk Dri, er, Connive: Two sales execs accused by Uncle Sam of bumping up HDD component prices

Japanese supplier's biz model, like its products, were straight as a spring

Two former sales executives at NHK Spring Ltd, Hitoshi Hashimoto and Hiroyuki Tamura, were indicted in America last week for alleged participation in a worldwide conspiracy to fix the prices of hard disk components.

"This charge demonstrates that antitrust violations are not just corporate offenses but also crimes by individuals," said assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim. "The [US Dept of Justice's] Antitrust Division is committed to prosecuting culpable senior executives who circumvent the antitrust laws in order to cheat consumers."

The indictment [PDF] against the pair, filed in a federal district court in San Francisco, California, follows a guilty plea from the Japan-based manufacturer last year. The industrial spring maker agreed to pay a $28.5m fine for participating in an eight-year-long scheme to collude with competitors to fix the prices for hard disk drive (HDD) suspension assemblies.

Suspension assemblies hold the HDD recording head near the spinning disk so digital information can be magnetically written and read. They can be sold as standalone components or as part of an HDD in a computer, game console, printer, and so on.

Following NHK Spring's admission of guilt, class-action civil lawsuits were filed in Detroit and San Francisco against the alleged corporate co-conspirators, a group said to include buyers of these parts: Hutchinson Technology (Minnesota), Magnecomp Precision Technology (TDK subsidiary in Thailand), NAT Peripheral (Dong Guan, China and Hong Kong), NHK International Corporation (Michigan), NHK Spring (Thailand), NHK Spring Precision (Guangzhou, China), SAE Magnetics (Hong Kong), and TDK Corporation (Japan).


Late $440m Christmas present for HP: Judge triples damages windfall from Quanta in CD-ROM drive price-fix showdown


Investigations into hard disk price fixing by US and Japanese authorities have been underway since at least 2016, when Japanese authorities raided the offices of NHK and TDK. Two years later, the Japanese Fair Trade Commission issued a cease-and-desist order to both companies, having determined that they colluded to set prices.

In 2018, Brazil's antitrust authority announced an investigation of five companies – Hutchinson Technology, Magnecomp Precision Technology, NHK Spring, TDK, and SAE Magnetics – and 38 individuals over allegations the firms divided the market up among themselves and set prices.

Over the past two decades, allegations of price fixing have been leveled against manufacturers of many different types of computer components, including DRAM, SRAM, optical disk drives, LCDs, capacitors, resistors, inductors, and the like. Collusion to sustain prices appears to be a common though illegal way companies try to survive when their products become commodities.

Tamura served as general manager of NHK's disk drive component sales division from approximately 2007 to 2013; Hashimoto occupied the same role from 2013 through 2016. The two Japanese citizens, if convicted in the US, face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $1m, though it could be more if their personal gain or any victim's loss exceeds that amount. ®

One alleged Dridex money-launderer set for US extradition, beams UK's National Crime Agency

They nicked six alleged perps last year but only one was charged

Britain’s National Crime Agency arrested six men in London on suspicion of laundering “tens of millions” for the Trickbot and Dridex banking malware gangs, the not-quite-police agency declared today.

The six, a mixture of British and Eastern European citizens, were arrested around a year ago, said the NCA as EU police agency Europol jointly boasted of a further 14 arrests in the political bloc, the US and Australia.

Continue reading

National Crime Agency says Brit teen accused of Twitter hack has not been arrested

Bognor Regis man still faces 20 years in clink, though

The British teenager accused of being part of the gang that hacked Twitter and posted a cryptocurrency scam from various US celebrities' accounts has not yet been arrested.

Mason Sheppard, a 19-year-old of Bognor Regis in the English county of West Sussex, has been visited by the National Crime Agency but no arrests have been made on this side of the Atlantic.

Continue reading

Hacking is not a crime – and the media should stop using 'hacker' as a pejorative

Hackers are friends not foes, says Alyssa Miller in this opening argument for our latest debate

Register debate Welcome to the latest Register Debate in which writers discuss technology topics, and you – the reader – choose the winning argument. The format is simple: a motion is proposed, the argument for the motion is published today, and the argument against will be published on Friday.

During the week you can cast your vote using the embedded poll, choosing whether you're in favor or against the motion. The final score will be announced next Tuesday, revealing whether the for or against argument was most popular. It's up to our writers to convince you to vote for their side.

Continue reading

Day 4 of outage: UK's Manchester police deploy exciting new carbon-based method to record crime

It may or not involve office stationery

Greater Manchester Police is struggling with a partial outage of a Capita-built computer system used by frontline officers to input information.

The PoliceWorks systems, which form part of the force's new iOPS (Integrated Police Operating System) – a £27m project undertaken by everyone's favourite outsourcer – went down after a planned IT upgrade at midnight on Monday. As a result, officers have not been able to input information into the police database.

Continue reading

Step on it, I've got the police on my hack: Anon swipes, leaks online 269GB of crime intel docs from cops, Feds

'BlueLeaks' data lifted after web host biz pwned, we're told

Some 269GB of data stolen from police and the Feds in America has been shared online by miscreants.

Known as BlueLeaks, the info trove consists mostly of crime intelligence material uploaded to what are known as fusion centers. The data was taken by hackers operating under the Anonymous banner, and was bunged on the DDoSecrets data-leaking site for all to see.

Continue reading

Maryland: Make malware possession a crime! Yes, yes, researchers get a free pass

Hardened cybercrooks must be shaking in their boots

A US state that was struck by a ransomware attack last year is now proposing a local law that would ban possession of malicious software.

Local news website the Baltimore Fishbowl reported that Maryland's Senate heard arguments on Senate Bill SB0030, a proposition that would "label the possession and intent to use ransomware in a malicious manner as a misdemeanor" punishable with up to 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

Continue reading

Your 2.3m Instagram fans won't stop the FBI... Web star accused of plotting to launder millions from cyber-crime

Bloke calling himself Hushpuppi extradited, allegedly conspired to steal $100m from English Premier League soccer club among others

An Instagram super-star with 2.3 million followers has been extradited to America accused of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars obtained via cyber-crime. He faces up to 20 years behind bars if convicted.

Nigerian-born Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, a 37-year-old known as Hushpuppi on Instagram and The Billionaire Gucci Master!!! on Snapchat, was charged in Los Angeles, California, with one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering. He was nabbed and hauled off to the States after the FBI, armed with warrants, tracked him down to his opulent pad in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) via his social media, iCloud, and Gmail accounts.

Continue reading

ICE to see you: Homeland Security's immigration cops tap up Clearview AI to probe child exploitation, cyber-crime

One-year deal worth quarter of a million dollars

The US Department of Homeland Security has awarded a $224,000 contract to Clearview AI to purchase “information technology components,” in a deal sealed this week.

The one-year contract reveals Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in Dallas, Texas, will use Clearview’s software. Some four companies bid for the contract, Tech Inquiry, a non profit that investigates US government contracts with tech companies, spotted on Friday.

Continue reading

How powerful are Russian hackers? One new law could transform global crime operations

Moscow's 'sovereign internet' effort means new rules for the bad guys too

Black Hat The introduction of Russia's Sovereign Internet rules is having an impact on the way criminal hackers around the world do business.

This is according to security house IntSights, which says that the law, set to become official in a few months, will force many hacking groups to change the way they operate both in Russia and in other countries.

Continue reading

Hey criminals, need a getaway vehicle? There's an app for that... Car share tool halts ops amid crime wave, arrests

You wouldn't download a car – oh actually...

The maker of a car-hire smartphone app has temporarily halted its service in Chicago after dozens of its vehicles were stolen.

The software biz, Car 2 Go, confirmed on Wednesday it is working with the cops after some of its cars went missing and, in some cases, were used in connection with other crimes.

Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021