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It was one of the biggest heists in history, fleecing half-a-billion dollars from people around the globe, and almost no one—except a small group of thieves, their confederates and the white-hat computer sleuths chasing them through cyberspace—knew it was taking place.
In January, federal investigators announced that Aleksandr Andreevich Panin, a Russian national who was the mastermind behind the crimes, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud. Panin’s capture was far more than just another tale of a crook who found illicit riches online. His case reveals many alarming details of a lawless underground flourishing in the darkest corners of the Internet, where hackers peddle off-the-shelf software that, for as little as a few thousand dollars, allows even the most unsophisticated computer novice to start emptying the bank accounts of people they’ve never met, or even seen.
No longer does someone bent on Internet crime have to dedicate weeks to writing code and testing programs, or even have the basic knowledge required to do so. Anyone can become an expert thief in a matter of minutes by using programs sold through hacker websites. The illegal programs—known as malware toolkits or crimeware—have their own brand names, like ZeuS, SpyEye and the Butterfly Bot.
The IRS estimates the average taxpayer spends about 13 hours on taxes and non-compliance costs are huge.
In the pursuit of finding the real owners of Gurlitt’s estimated €1bn trove of Holocaust art, it is maybe time to check your family tree.
The latest news is that Germany has been put under pressure by the US and Israeli authorities to speed up the return of 1,400 Nazi-looted artworks by the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Chagall found a few months ago in the Munich flat of Cornelius Gurlitt, an 80-year- old recluse.
So if you wish to shed light on this perplexing case and understand the battle of laws, please follow the plot carefully.
After speaking to a few art lawyers, in order to solve the mystery, most of them explained that recovering stolen art can be a complex and difficult process.
David Rothkopf in our chat just now, when a reader asked him what he thinks of Super PACs.
A breakdown of what the average American household buys, based on government data (PDF) for December, 2011.
We didn’t include everything, but we included the biggies, as well as some smaller categories that caught our eye.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Credit: Lam Thuy Vo / Planet Money
Dear average Americans, please spend more on books, magazines, and newspapers and less on alcohol. Your friend, Newsweek.
A new study out today shows how top CEOs are walking away from their jobs with literally hundreds of millions of dollars—even after they do a crummy job. That’s wild. Gary Rivlin writes about the news today:
“You’re fired” can be the sweetest words these days when you’re the CEO of a publicly traded company. Sure, Leo Apotheker must have felt lousy when Hewlett-Packard dumped him as chief executive last September after less than a year on the job. But the sting of humiliation was no doubt softened by a $12 million cash payment the company gave him despite the lousy job he had done.
But now a new study released Wednesday shows that $12 million ain’t nothing in the age of the imperial CEO. GMI, a well-regarded research firm that monitors executive pay, looked at the largest severance packages ex-CEOs have received since the start of 2000.
To earn a spot in the top 20, a CEO would need to have received a golden parachute in excess of $100 million.
Zooey Deschanel does good things with her money (according to financial docs recently filed by her lawyer and promptly obtained by Internet).