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Microsoft goes after a cybercriminal group that sold millions of fraudulent accounts online

Microsoft has announced it is going after a cybercriminal group that the company claims has been the number one group in the world for selling fraudulent Microsoft accounts. It has been labeled as Storm-1152 by Microsoft. The company has made efforts to shut down websites used by the group, along with seizing infrastructure based in the US that was used by the group.

In a blog post, Microsoft stated:

Storm-1152 runs illicit websites and social media pages, selling fraudulent Microsoft accounts and tools to bypass identity verification software across well-known technology platforms. These services reduce the time and effort needed for criminals to conduct a host of criminal and abusive behaviors online.

According to Microsoft, Storm-1152 has created 750 million fraudulent accounts, which has generated millions of dollars in revenue for the group.

Microsoft got a court order from the Southern District of New York on December 7 that allowed it to shut down websites that were operated by Storm-1152. Those sites included one called Hotmailbox.me, which the company said sold false Microsoft Outlook accounts. The company also took down sites designed to bypass the well-known CAPTCHA verification service and removed social media accounts used by Storm-1152.

Microsoft has even named the main people it behind Storm-1152, who are all based in Vietnam: Duong Dinh Tu, Linh Van Nguyễn (also known as Nguyễn Van Linh), and Tai Van Nguyen. Microsoft stated:

Our findings show these individuals operated and wrote the code for the illicit websites, published detailed step-by-step instructions on how to use their products via video tutorials and provided chat services to assist those using their fraudulent services.

The company has sent this information to U.S. law enforcement members for "criminal referral."

This new action by Microsoft comes a few months after the company admitted Chinese hackers had gotten access to government Outlook email accounts in the US and Europe. The company has since announced a new cybersecurity effort called the Secure Future Initiative that it says will help improve Microsoft's efforts in fighting cybercrime.

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