An American citizen who had been living in Moscow was arrested Wednesday at a New York City airport to face charges in the largest theft of customer data from an American financial institution ever.
Authorities said they arrested Joshua Samuel Aaron, 32, at John F. Kennedy International Airport after his flight arrived from Russia.
Aaron faces charges, along with two alleged accomplices, of hacking into servers of JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2014 and stealing the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of 83 million customers and small business accounts.
“Aaron allegedly worked to hack into the networks of dozens of American companies, ultimately leading to the largest theft of personal information from U.S. financial institutions ever,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
Bharara did not say if Aaron returned to stand trial voluntarily after negotiations with U.S. authorities.
Prosecutors say Aaron operated in cahoots with two Israeli men in a series of hacks against banks, brokerage firms and financial publication houses. The crimes occurred between 2007 and mid-2015.
The two Israelis, Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein, were arrested in Israel in July 2015 and extradited to New York last June.
Aaron faces prosecution on 22 different criminal counts, including wire and securities fraud, computer hacking, conspiracy to hack, aggravated identity theft, and carrying out a securities manipulation scheme.
Aaron and the others were accused of stealing personal identity information of more than 100 million people, more than any other criminal gang, and created what Bharara called “hacking as a business model.”
Aaron’s arrest comes amid heightened frictions between the United States and Russia over Obama administration allegations that Russian state hackers penetrated into the computers of political parties and individual political operatives in blatant meddling in the 2016 election.
Bloomberg reported that court documents linked to the various breaches indicate a Russian-speaking person is behind the hacks, indicating that another person not yet in custody may be a mastermind.