Operation Phish Phry is a cybercrime investigation carried out by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Los Angeles Electronic Crimes Task Force and Egyptian authorities. FBI officials have described Operation Phish Phry as the largest cybercrime investigation ever carried out in the United States, with the largest number of defendants ever charged for the same cybercrime. The investigation led to the arrest of one hundred people in the United States and Egypt.
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The name phish phry, which is pronounced "fish fry," is a play on words. Phishing is a type of e-mail fraud in which the perpetrator sends out legitimate-looking email in an attempt to lure victims in and capture their personal and financial information. The FBI's investigation into phishing began in 2007 when the FBI and financial institutions joined forces to identify and disrupt criminal rings targeting the financial infrastructure in the United States.
During the course of the investigation, Egyptian authorities agreed to join Operation Phish Phry. The defendants in Egypt have been charged with doing the actual phishing -- sending out official looking emails that directed recipients to fake Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp. websites that looked legitimate. Defendants in the United States have been charged with setting up new bank accounts into which their Egyptian counterparts transferred money from the compromised accounts.