Romanian cryptojackers sentenced to 20 years in prison

Two Romanian cryptojackers have been sentenced to prison in the United States. The two were the leaders of a malware gang that has been in operation for over a decade, accused of infecting over 400,000 computers and made away with over $4 million.

Bogdan Nicolescu and Radu Miclaus have been operating from Bucharest, Romania, since 2007, a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice revealed. Nicolescu is allegedly the leader of a cybercrime group known as the Bayrob Group, with Miclaus being one of the other front men. As CoinGeek reported, the two were convicted of 21 crimes in April.

They began by developing proprietary malware which they then distributed via malicious emails. They posed as legitimate institutions and companies so as to get the victims to click on the links. Some of the institutions they impersonated included the Internal Revenue Service, Western Union and Norton Antivirus. Once the victim clicked on the links, the malware would install itself on the computer.

The malware harvested email addresses from the infected hosts. The criminals would use these emails to target more victims. They had managed to infect over 400,000 computers before the DoJ thwarted their plans.

Bayrob Group used the infected computers to mine cryptocurrencies, the DoJ revealed. Additionally, they engaged in “persistent and sophisticated data mining of the infected computers, selling information gleaned from infected computers repeatedly over time on the Dark Web. Investigators discovered evidence on the Dark Web of trafficking in users’ personal financial information, passwords, and access to their computers.”

The DoJ alleged that Nicolescu and Miclaus made over $4 million from their illegal activities.

The DoJ started investigating the group when it received a complaint from one of the group’s victim in Ohio. Nicolescu and Miclaus were found guilty of spreading malware and selling information they gained unlawfully on the dark web. Niclaus was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with Miclaus expected to serve 18 years.

U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman commented:

“Today’s sentences underscore the critical work being done to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent those criminals who think that the presumed anonymity of the Internet can hide their pervasive and extensive criminal activities. Regardless of whether the criminals are in Romania, or within our District, these sentences send the clear and resounding message that crimes committed using the Internet will not go unpunished.”

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