On April 11, the United States Department of Justice announced that they had convicted two Romanian cybercriminals on 21 counts of computer and wire fraud. The two were convicted of spreading malware which infected over 400,000 computers, allowing them to steal credit card information as well as to use those computers to illegally mine for cryptocurrency according to the DOJ.
After a 12 day trial, Bogdan Nicolescu and Radu Miclaus were convicted on 21 different counts related to the indictment. The two will now appear back in the Northern District Court of Ohio on August 14 to face sentencing.
According to the indictment, the two began operating a criminal conspiracy starting in 2007. The two, along with a co-conspirator who pleaded guilty and testified against the duo at trial, developed a malware program that appeared to be coming from legitimate operations such as Western Union, Norton AntiVirus and the Internal Revenue Service.
The program was attached to an email and would release to malware whenever a person clicked the attached file. This allowed the trio to harvest hundreds of thousands of emails which enabled them to eventually steal the credit card and other financial information of nearly half a million users.
It is believed that millions of dollars were fraudulently obtained by the group. Not only were they using the malware program, but the charges alleged that they had created a team, known as the Bayrob Group, which created a series of websites that were intended to look legitimate but which were used to create false sales that stole users money without providing the product or services.
The manner in which criminals are using the Internet has become a growing concern for law enforcement agencies across the globe. The Romanians were smart in using the funds that they had acquired illegally to enable them to use virtual private networks. This allowed them to remain anonymous, which made it nearly impossible for them to be tracked.
Anonymous cryptocurrencies have become very popular for criminal organizations to use to avoid detection. In March of last year, authorities in Spain tracked down a Ukrainian group that had created malware that enabled them to be able to steal money from over 100 financial institutions across Europe. This money was then used to acquire cryptocurrency which allowed them to operate without having law enforcement officials tracking their finances.
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