The Manhattan US Attorney Tuesday announced [press release] charges against three foreign nationals for insider trading, wire fraud, intentional damage, unlawful access, and related conspiracy acts. The defendants are Iat Hong and Chin Hung of Macau, and Bo Zheng of China. Iat Hong was arrested on Christmas Day in Hong Kong. The charges stem from cyber attacks on several large law firms beginning in 2014. A press release by the prosecution stated that the three defendants infiltrated the networks and servers of the “victim firms” and then hacked into the e-mail accounts of firm executives. The defendants then obtained information about pending mergers and acquisitions between firms, so they could buy stock before the news became public. Prosecutors allege that the hackers made an estimated $4 million in profit after selling the increased stock.
A similar story broke last year when, at the request of US government officials, Chinese authorities arrested [JURIST report] individual hackers that allegedly misappropriated commercial secrets from US firms with the intention to sell proprietary information to state-owned entities within the the People’s Republic of China. Earlier that year the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) indicted [JURIST report] an international web of hackers and traders who stole information from press releases prior to publication and traded on said information, making over $100 million in illegal profits. Also in 2015 the US Department of Justice (DOJ) unsealed the indictment [JURIST report] of a Turkish man for allegedly organizing three cyber-attacks that led to an estimated $55 million in global losses.