Sometimes it seem like new fraud schemes are discovered every day, but a recent shocking discovery has unmasked the activities of a criminal group that was active over a period of seven years. Businesses that made use of or specialize in POS credit card processing were among those that saw payment information stolen. According to the New York Times, five people of Russian and Ukrainian origin were involved with this effort, and two have been apprehended as the hunt continues.

Though we have seen reports of other major criminal operations along similar lines this year alone, this most recent crime saw the numbers of 160 million different cards stolen from several companies in different industries and international locations, using a combination of malware and on-site observation.

The Wall Street Journal lists 17 different businesses as having been compromised by this wave, ranging from Discover to the grocery chain owners Hannaford Brothers Co. and even the server of NASDAQ. Once card numbers were obtained, the perpetrators could arrange to sell them at different prices.

The two particular men in custody are both Russian: Dmitriy Smilianets and Vladimir Drinkman. The Times quoted Indiana University's Fred Cate, who cited the origin of these attacks as significant.

"The bigger threat is coming from criminal gangs, most of which are coming from Russia," he said. "It's far more immediately impactful than threats coming from China."

Schemes of this nature can be especially terrifying considering the long periods of time over which they go undetected. Running regular checks on the credit card processing program you have in place can seem tiresome, but it's necessary in a time when ordinary equipment can become a vehicle for fraud.