New York ‘Bitcoin-for-cards’ scammer faces 20 years in jail

A hacker allegedly involved in a “bitcoin-for-cards” scam is facing up to 20 years in jail after being found in possession of a device containing substantial quantities of stolen card numbers.

Vitalii Antonenko of New York City has been charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, with the charges also carrying a maximum fine of $500,000.

Antonenko was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in March 2020. He was apprehended by police after arriving from the Ukraine, where he was found to be in possession of the unlawfully obtained card numbers.

The prosecution alleges Antonenko and his co-conspirators relied on SQL injection attacks to steal card data from weakly secured networks, which were then sold on the dark web.

Police were alerted to Antonenko after investigating two BTC wallets that had been used in connection with transactions totaling $94 million. At least $140,000 of that sum ended up in a private wallet address belonging to the individual.

Since 2014, Antonenko had been found to be exchanging the digital currency he received to those wallets for fiat through a third party, with BTC being sold below market price.

Senior Special Agent Peter Gannon said the sale below market value was one of the most obvious causes for suspicion of money laundering through Antonenko’s wallets.

Darknet digital currency operations have been a target of law enforcement in recent months. In the last couple of weeks, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network commended authorities for seizing some $22 million in digital currency from the darknet, while numerous investigations into other sources of digital currency criminality are ongoing. 

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