One of the FBI’s most wanted hackers, a man responsible for stealing the personal records of more than 83 million JP Morgan Chase customers, was arrested in New York Wednesday.
Shortly after being charged with multiple counts of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 32-year-old Maryland native Joshua Aaron fled to Russia. On Wednesday, he was taken into custody upon arriving from Moscow at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Aaron, along with co-conspirators Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein, are accused of breaching several major U.S. companies — including Fidelity Investments Ltd., E*Trade Financial Corp., Scottrade Financial Services Inc. and Dow Jones & Co. — and stealing personal information. According to prosecutors, the trio oversaw a vast money laundering scheme, processed payment information for fake antivirus software, created fake passports and at one point in time compromised a New Jersey-based credit union.
Aaron’s return to the U.S., Bloomberg reports, citing unnamed officials, follows months of negotiations between federal authorities and a Russian migrant detention center. Ben Brafman, Aaron’s lawyer, has a different story: His client waived extradition and returned voluntarily. Aaron pleaded not guilty to 16 criminal counts, including hacking, securities fraud and conspiracy to commit a crime.
“Aaron allegedly worked to hack into the networks of dozens of American companies, ultimately leading to the largest theft of personal information from US financial institutions ever,” Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “For pursuing what we have called ‘hacking as a business model,’ and thanks to the efforts of the FBI and the US Secret Service, Aaron will now join his co-defendants to face justice in a Manhattan federal courtroom.”
The arrest of Aaron comes at time when the FBI and the Department of Justice are making strides in prosecuting computer crime through international law enforcement partnerships.