German police have arrested seven members of an international gang of so-called "phishers," who hacked into computers of Internet banking customers and raided their accounts, authorities said on Tuesday.
"The investigation is continuing but what we can say now is they were able to obtain thousands of individual pieces of data," a spokeswoman for the BKA federal crime office said.
Three other members of the ring are still under investigation.
The word "phishing" is said to derive from a combination of two words, which describes the act of hackers "fishing" for "passwords."
A statement posted on the BKA Web site said the shutdown of the phishing ring of Germans and Lithuanians had prevented "millions of euros of losses" that online banking customers would have incurred if the phishers had carried out their plan.
The spokewoman said the amount the phishers had successfully stolen from bank accounts was in double-digit thousands.
The gang transferred the funds to German bank accounts set up using false names and planned to channel funds to foreign banks in eastern Europe, the BKA statement said.
The BKA said the phishing ring had obtained online banking customers' user names and passwords and other sensitive data from their victims' computers by means of a "Trojan horse," a self-circulating, virus-like programme that spreads by email and sends data from the infiltrated computer back to the phisher.