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17 charged over multi-million card fraud racket

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A group of 17 people has been indicted in New York for alleged involvement in a credit card counterfeiting and an ID theft racket that raked in millions.

The defendants allegedly trafficked more than 95,000 stolen credit card numbers and caused banks losses estimated at $4m, the 173-count indictment alleges, Reuters reports. The defendants allegedly made themselves well known in underground carder forums by running ads on various sites. One of the sites allegedly run by the group was the pleasingly-monikered The International Association for the Advancement of Criminal Activity, a sort of THRUSH for the digital age perhaps.

Reuters adds that the defendants include married couple Vadim Vassilenko (40) and Yelena Barysheva (42), who pleaded guilty in September 2006 to running an unlicensed money transfer and cheque-cashing business. The duo, from Russia and the Ukraine, are currently behind bars serving time for these offences. The latest indictment charges that Vassilenko and Barysheva's business, Western Express International Inc., acted as a conduit for $35m in suspect funds.

The couple's defence lawyer, Daniel Gotlin, said the new charges were a repeat of those they faced at an earlier trial. He alleged prosecutors were lining the duo up for a fresh trial because they were "disappointed" with Vassilenko and Barysheva's earlier sentences. Vassilenko was jailed for two to six years and Barysheva for one to three years at the earlier hearing. ®

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