The Courier-Mail

Market scam nets $137m in illegal profits

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Exchange Commission listing 32 defendants said the scheme yielded more than $100 million in unlawful profits.

The conspiracy was allegedly engineered by a pair of hackers in Ukraine who penetrated the computer systems of Marketwire­d, PR Newswire and Business Wire, which send out press releases for major firms.

“The defendants were a well-organised group that allegedly robbed the newswire companies and their clients and cheated the securities markets and the investing public by engaging in an unpreceden­ted hacking and trading scheme,” US attorney Paul Fishman said.

“The defendants launched a series of sophistica­ted and relentless cyber attacks against three major newswire companies, stole highly confidenti­al informatio­n and used (it) to enrich themselves at the expense of public companies and their shareholde­rs.”

The Ukraine-based hackers allegedly stole about 150,000 press releases from February 2010 through to this year that contained informatio­n critical to stock valuation.

The hackers then sold the stolen data to traders, at times being compensate­d with a flat fee and other times with a percentage of profits from the trades.

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