Federal authorities on Thursday indicted 19 people in the United States and abroad on charges related to a Web site investigators claimed was one of the largest online centers for trafficking in stolen identity information and credit cards.
More than 20 others have also been charged in the probe.
The site, www.shadowcrew.com, had about 4,000 members who dealt with at least 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers and caused more than $4 million in losses, the Justice Department (search) said.
Federal agents gained control of the site during a yearlong undercover investigation by the Secret Service (search) and other agencies, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott S. Christie said.
"It allowed the agents to more closely monitor the criminal conduct that was going on, and also to arrange for undercover purchases of illegal merchandise from various targets," Christie said.
Authorities believe they have charged and arrested much of the leadership, including Andrew Mantovani of Scottsdale, Ariz.; David Appleyard of Linwood, N.J.; and Anatoly Tyukanov, of Moscow, he said.
The Shadowcrew (search) site on Thursday declared it is "For those who wish to play in the shadows!"
By early evening, however, that slogan had a line drawn through it, and the page bore a picture of a man behind bars and announced, "Activities by Shadowcrew members are being investigated by the United States Secret Service. Several arrests have recently been made ... with many more to follow."
The 62-count indictment, handed up by a federal grand jury in Newark, said the site was dedicated to aiding computer hackers and also distributed stolen bank account numbers and bogus documents such as driver's licenses.
The investigation has led to the arrest of 21 people in the United States and about 20 in Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, Christie said. Some have not yet been indicted.
Names of lawyers for the suspects were not immediately available.
The indictment includes charges of conspiracy, trafficking in stolen credit card numbers and unlawful transfer of identification documents, among others. The penalties range from three years to 15 years in prison.