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Court extends arrest of Israeli NYSE hacking suspects

FBI seeks extradition of Gery Shalon, Zvi Orenstein amid allegations they manipulated prices on stock exchange

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Gery Shalon, second left, and Ziv Orenstein, second right, suspected of being involved in several fraud schemes tied to the NYSE, seen in the Jerusalem Magistrates' Court, July 22, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Gery Shalon, second left, and Ziv Orenstein, second right, suspected of being involved in several fraud schemes tied to the NYSE, seen in the Jerusalem Magistrates' Court, July 22, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday extended by three weeks the detention of two Israelis pending an extradition request from US authorities who want the men as suspects in a major hacking and fraud scam that targeted the New York Stock Exchange.

Gery Shalon and Zvi Orenstein were arrested last month on suspicion that, together with others, they manipulated prices on the stock exchange.

In explaining the reasons for extending their detention, the presiding judge noted that “the charges against the defendants are broad and serious, which increases their incentive for escaping justice.”

If convicted in the US, the men could face up to 20 years in prison.

The FBI estimates the incident is one of the biggest cyber-crimes in recent years and involved operatives in Moscow, Tel Aviv and Florida.

Following their arrests in July, US Attorney Preet Bharara claimed that since 2011 the men had manipulated trading in US securities from overseas, using fake identities to funnel millions of dollars in unlawful proceeds through a web of international shell companies.

The men sent false and misleading spam emails to millions of people about penny stocks in a pump-and-dump scheme, prosecutors said. Such schemes enable people to drive up the prices of stocks so they can sell at a peak before the truth about the securities is discovered and the prices plummet.

Charges in the case include multiple counts of conspiracy and securities fraud.

In a separate civil complaint, the Securities and Exchange Commission said the men controlled at least 20 stock promotion websites with which they sent multiple emails to people purporting to come from different and seemingly unrelated sources. In them, they urged that shares of various companies be bought as soon as possible, the lawsuit said.

Police have arrested a total of five people in Israel allegedly tied to the computer hacks, which targeted JPMorgan and other financial institutions.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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