​AU$77,000 to be seized following online account hacking and stock manipulation

A joint investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and the Australian Federal Police has uncovered that a suspected Russian hacker may have generated more than AU$77,000 from manipulating the stock market.

The Supreme Court of New South Wales has ordered for AU$77,429.61 to be seized following a joint Australian Securities and Investments Commission-Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigation to crack down on online account hacking.

The joint investigation known as Operation Emerald saw ASIC discover unauthorised trades were made by a suspected Russian attacker who hacked into a number of retail client accounts held with Commonwealth Securities Limited, Etrade Australia, and Australian Investment Exchange Limited.

As a result, the suspected Russian hacker was able to use the hacked accounts to target 13 penny stocks listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, and traded them in a way that allowed them to create artificially inflated prices, before trading out, and collecting the generated profits.

Following the order, the matter has now been adjourned until February 2016. If the alleged hacker is found guilty of breaching market manipulation, they could face up to 10 years jail under the Corporation Act 2001, while internet hacking offences could carry penalties of another 10 years in jail under the Cybercrime Act 2001.

David Gray, AFP manager of the proceeds of crime litigation team, warned the joint investigation should serve as a reminder to those who wish to conduct illegal money laundering activities in Australia.

"Despite efforts by criminals to evade detection, the AFP and its law enforcement partners remain committed to taking the profits out of crime and will take every opportunity to stop criminals from reinvesting these profits to fund other criminal ventures," he said.

Earlier this year, Kaspersky researchers discovered that online hacking group Carbanak have been stolen $1 billion from banks globally over the past two years. They have done this by releasing malicious malware into internal corporate networks, which allows the gang to mimic staff members and transfer cash fraudulently.