U.S. Indicts 3 Chinese Citizens For Hacking Law Firms

U.S. Indicts 3 Chinese Citizens For Hacking Law Firms

Additional cyber hacking of law firms' data yielded secret information that allegedly enabled the suspects to ring up roughly $841,000 in illegal profits from the $395 million deal announced in May 2015 by Stamford, Ct. -based technology company Pitney Bowes (PBI) and Borderfree, a market leader in e-commerce solutions.

They bought shares in at least five companies before deals were announced, based on information obtained from the e-mail accounts of lawyers involved in those transactions, the USA said in a statement on Tuesday.

Preet Bharara, the USA attorney in Manhattan, stated that the current case should be a wake-up call for others, not only in the United States, but around the world. The SEC said it is also attempting to freeze the men's assets to prevent them from cashing out prior to being potentially extradited and tried in the U.S. Two others, Bo Zheng and Chin Hung, have not been arrested. The enforcement action marks the first time the SEC has charged hacking into a law firm's computer network.

The newspaper said they were "extraordinarily active in pursuing information" and quotes the indictment against them as saying that between March and September 2015 they "attempted to cause unauthorised access to the networks and servers of the targeted law firms on more than 100,000 occasions". The law firms that were targeted were not identified in the indictment, however, a previous report said that a federal investigation is conducted whether hacking attacks at Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP and Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP involved theft of private information for insider trading.

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While the law firms were not identified in the indictment, information on companies being targeted for acquisition helped the trio benefit from speculative stock purchases due to their inside line on what could happen with sales of the companies. Following Hong's arrest on Christmas Day, he now faces extradition proceedings and is expected to reappear in court on 16 January 2017.

Through various trading accounts, according to prosecutors, the men purchased shares of at least five publicly traded companies prior to it being publicized that those firms would be acquired, in turn generating a profit in excess of $4 million. By purchasing shares before the public announcements were made, they made $4m.

At least seven firms were targeted by the alleged perpetrators between April 2014 and late 2015, according to the charges.

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