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Sweden's biggest hacking case: companies and authorities were targeted

Police: The scope makes it the biggest of its kind
3:18 min

Prosecutors have started legal proceedings in what is believed to be the biggest hacking case in Swedish history.

A 38-year-old man from Malmö is at the centre of the case, suspected of hacking into the IT-systems of some 20 companies and financial institutions, and defrauding them of SEK 25.5 million plus attempting to swindle another SEK 15 million. Another 7 people have been identified as suspects with different roles in the fraud, including money laundering and forgery.

Some 50 police officers in all parts of the country have worked with the investigation.

"As far as I know, this is the biggest hacker crime in terms of its scope in Sweden."

"We have had individual hacker attacks, where people have accessed very sensitive information, but here it is the scope and all those that have been affected that makes it one of the biggest of its kind," said Stefan Larsson, who co-ordinated the police investigation.

By using false e-mail-addresses from what looks like a credible customer, the suspect is supposed to have made people in the different organisations click on links that are said to help them "enable macros" so they can see the content of the e-mails properly. This has then allowed the suspect to enter into the IT-systems and for example change bank giro numbers, so that money to pay for already existing bills have gone to the wrong recipient.

In the biggest single fraud, Swedbank paid SEK 4.3 million for what was said to be the purchase of necessary equipment.

In addition to banks and companies, one authority (the prison and probation service) as well as one party (the Sweden Democrats) are affected by this case. Prosecutors believe the crimes were committed from the end of November 2015 until October last year, when the police raided the flat of the prime suspect and seized his computers and accessed his servers.

According to the 38-year-old man denies being the one in charge of the scheme.

"He admits a certain involvement in it all, but denies that he is the ring-leader," said his lawyer, Jan-Anders Hybelius.

The prosecutor demands the maximum sentence for the main suspect, which is 6-8 years in prison. The trial starts on the 26th of September.

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