By Brendan Sasso - 07/25/13 05:53 PM EDT
“This type of crime is the cutting edge,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman of New Jersey said in a statement. “Those who have the expertise and the inclination to break into our computer networks threaten our economic well-being, our privacy, and our national security."
The defendants are Vladimir Drinkman, 32; Alexandr Kalinin, 26; Roman Kotov, 32; Dmitriy Smilianets, 29; and Mikhail Rytikov, 26.
They face computer hacking and wire fraud charges. If convicted, they could serve decades in prison.
Drinkman and Smilianets were arrested while traveling in the Netherlands last year at the request of the U.S. government. Smilianets was extradited last year, but Kalinin, Kotov and Rytikov remain at large.
The defendants are all Russian nationals except for Rytikov, who is a citizen of Ukraine.
"Today’s indictment will no doubt serve as a serious warning to those who would utilize illegal and fraudulent means to steal sensitive information online,” acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said.