FTC targets $10 million international credit card scam

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says it has put an end to an international identity theft scheme responsible for more than $10 million in unauthorized charges on consumers' credit and debit cards.

Since at least 2006, more than one million people have been charged $10 or less and their payments routed through at least 16 dummy corporations in the United States to bank accounts in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The scammers hid under phony company names that resembled real companies and stole personally identifiable information from victims in the U.S., according to court documents. Using that information, they were able to open more than 100 merchant accounts with companies that process credit and debit card charges.

Investigators say perpetrators recruited at least 14 people, known as "money mules," through spam emails to create fake companies. The emails announced that an international finance services company was looking for a U.S. finance manager. The "money mules" listed the names of identity theft victims as owners of the companies and also used information from legitimate companies without their knowledge.