DOJ charges 36 people in massive global cybercrime ring

DOJ charges 36 people in massive global cybercrime ring
Acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General John Cronan speaks on Tuesday during a daily news briefing at the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, Cronan and the Department of Justice indicted 36 people for their alleged roles in a transnational cybercrime organization responsible for more than $530 million in damages to businesses, consumers, and banks. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Department of Justice indicted 36 people Wednesday for their alleged roles in a transnational cybercrime organization responsible for more than $530 million in damages to businesses, consumers, and banks.

Wednesday’s takedown stands as “one of the largest cyberfraud enterprise prosecutions ever undertaken by the Department of Justice,” Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan said in a DOJ news release.

The indictment, filed in Las Vegas, charged 36 people with nine counts, including conspiracy to racketeer, wire fraud, and computer crimes. Thirteen of the 36 people indicted were arrested in the U.S., Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Kosovo and Serbia. The remaining defendants remain at large, Reuters reported.

“The Department of Justice refuses to allow these cybercriminals to use the perceived anonymity of the Internet as a shield for their crimes,” Cronan said. “We are committed to working closely with our international counterparts to identify, investigate, and bring to justice the perpetrators of these crimes, wherever in the world they operate.”

All 36 were upper-level members, administrators, vendors, and moderators of the so-called Infraud Organization, which serves as a large-scale online forum for cybercrime, including the “acquisition and sale of stolen identities, credit card information and malware.”

The indictment noted that, as of March 2017, the organization had 10,901 registered members.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Rybicki described Infraud Organization as “truly the premier one-stop shop for cybercriminals worldwide.”

U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson of the District of Nevada admonished the organization.

“Criminals cannot hide behind their computer screens. We are working vigilantly with American and international law enforcement partners to identify and disrupt transnational cybercrime organizations, such as the Infraud Organization,” Elieson said.

The Justice Department estimated that, over the course of seven years, the Infraud Organization caused “approximately $2.2 billion in intended losses,” and resulted in more than $530 in actual losses.

The organization’s slogan was “In Fraud We Trust.”

The Infraud Organization was founded by Svyatoslav Bondarenko,  34, of Ukraine, who billed the cybercriminal forum as the “premier destination for carding,” the use of counterfeit or stolen credit card information. The forum also directed visitors to vending sites that offered malware and stolen financial information and personal information, including credit card numbers, banking information and social security cards.

Derek Benner, acting executive associate director of Homeland Security Investigations, emphasized the threat that cybercrime poses worldwide.

“The criminals involved in such schemes may think they can escape detection by hiding behind their computer screens here and overseas, but as this case shows, cyberspace is not a refuge from justice,” Benner said. “HSI will continue working with our law enforcement partners in this country and around the world to aggressively target cyber thieves to ensure the perpetrators face the full weight of the law.”