KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has claimed to have arrested on Saturday two men who were on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) list of 10 most-wanted cyber criminals.
Officials of FIA's Cybercrime Circle said these men, Noor Azizuddin and Farhanul Arshad, were arrested from Federal B Area on FBI's request. They were arrested from their house along with Azizuddin's young sons, Osama and Omair, and his brother, Faisal in a pre-dawn raid led by Cybercrime Circle deputy director Mir Mazhar Jabbar. The second suspect, Arshad, is Azizuddin's nephew. All the men were moved to an undisclosed location.
According to Jabbar, the FBI websites lists the names of Azizuddin and Arshad as being involved in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud, gain unauthorised access to computers and identity theft. The FBI also offered a reward of up to $50,000 for any information leading to their arrest, according to the FBI website.
The website further stated that Azizuddin and Arshad were wanted for their alleged involvement in an international telecommunications scheme to commit fraud against unsuspecting individuals, companies, and government entities. Between November 2008 and April 2012, the two men allegedly compromised computer systems and committed fraud amounting to over $50 million. This fraud involved members of a criminal organisation that has links within Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Spain, Singapore, Italy, and Malaysia.
On June 29, 2012, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Azizuddin by the United States district court New Jersey after he was indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, identity theft, etc the website stated.
Meanwhile, the suspects' family claimed that Azizuddin was apprehended by the Interpol in Malaysia but he was released later as the FBI lacked evidence. The FIA admitted that Azizuddin was arrested in Malaysia and was released in 2012. "The issue is that the FBI failed to interrogate him properly [in Malaysia] and were only able to scan the one laptop he had on him there," said an official, privy to the matter.
After the 2012 incident, the entire family was accused of fraud as Azizuddin was running the business under Faisal's name and using his sons' bank accounts, along with Arshad. The FIA arrest on Saturday came after they received complaints against the suspects, and also due to FBI's request.
"We will inform the FBI, which will also dispatch its officials here for evidence sharing and interrogation," said the official. "The accused will, however, not be handed over to them [FBI] as we have already registered a case against them for their cybercrimes in Pakistan." An FIR No 10/15, under sections on banking law, money laundering and electronic transactions ordinance, has been registered on behalf of the state.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2015.
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