According to the press release by the Department of Justice (DoJ), a federal jury in Ohio convicted two Romanian cybercriminals on 21 counts for infecting hundred thousand of computers in the U.S. with malware and duping the victims out of millions of dollars. On Thursday, April 11, a federal jury declared two Bucharest, Romania based cybercriminals to be guilty of their involvement in the scheme where the malware was used to hijack the victims’ personal information i.e. credit card details and other such information, which was later used to cash out on the darknet, to mine cryptocurrencies and other illicit activities.
Romanian duo Bogdan Nicolescu age 36, and Radu Miclaus age 37 and a third co-conspirator who pled guilty, were convicted by a federal jury in Ohio on Thursday, after a 12-day trial. They have been associated with varieties of illicit activities that involve wire fraud, money laundering, identity theft, and other such activities. It is also believed that they have been involved in the conspiracy since 2007 when they first developed the malware that scooped up users’ credentials, financial data, personal information and more.
The press release also revealed that Romanian duo and a co-conspirator who pleaded guilty had combinedly been operating the criminal conspiracy from Bucharest, Romania by sending the victims malicious emails. The disseminated malicious emails consisted the malware were appearing to be legitimate emails from trusted firms such as Western Union, Norton Antivirus, and the IRS. But when the recipients try to open the attached file the malware begins to install spontaneously onto their computer. Right after that, the malware started to stealing personal information, credit card details, passwords, and user names and even disabled the victim’s malware protection tool as well as blocked the victims’ access to websites associated with law enforcement. With the malware harvested emails the cybercriminals had got access and control of more than 400,000 computers.
They reportedly used the processing power of these computers for crypto mining. Moreover, whenever the victim visited the payment websites such PayPal and other e-commerce or social media websites or others, the defendants would redirect them directly to the similar Phishing sites they had created stealing their usernames and password and then payment details. They had also created fake webpages inside the phishing sites that includes 1,000 fraudulent listings for automobiles, motorcycles and more on eBay to make the victims trust on their websites and dupe them.
The malware was also capable of copying the emails from victims’ contacts and consequently sent those contacts malicious emails as well. According to DoJ, the duo registered more than 100,000 email accounts and successfully sent tens of millions of malicious emails. The stolen money than laundered by “money transfer agents” who transferred the money through shell companies and then to Romanian offices of Western Union or Money Gram from where the defendants collected the money. “This scam resulted in a loss of millions of dollars”, according to the press release.