Major Cyber Crime Ring Taken Down
The U.S. Justice Department has announced one of the largest-ever closures of a global cyber crime ring this week. The cyber crime ring trafficked in stolen identities and caused more than $530 million in losses to consumers. Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Rybicki said, “Today marks a significant step in the battle against transnational cyber crime.”
The cyber crime network operated as an online discussion forum known as “Infraud.” The group bought and sold Social Security numbers, birthdays and passwords stolen from consumers around the world. The forum was initially hosted as a traditional website, reachable at the URLs infraud.cc and infraud.ws. Its slogan was “In Fraud We Trust.”
Infraud eventually grew into a half-billion dollar operation. The stolen items advertised included nearly 800,000 HSBC bank logins, PayPal logins and credentials, and credit card numbers. Users could also sell malware on the site. The network also provided an escrow account people could use to launder their proceeds. Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan said, “Infraud operated like a business to facilitate cyberfraud on a global scale.”
Infraud was created in 2010 by 34-year-old Ukrainian Svyatoslav Bondarenko. According to the indictment, Bondarenko was responsible for creating hierarchy for the organization, made advertising decisions, and banned members from buying or selling items from Russian victims. Sergey Medvedev was named in the indictment as a cofounder of the Infraud site. According to the Justice Department, Medvedev took over as the “admin and owner” of the site in April 2016.
The Justice Department says it has indicted 36 people linked to the crimes. The charges they face include bank fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering. The investigation is still ongoing.
Officials said that 13 of the 36 have been arrested in Australia, France, Italy, Kosovo, Serbia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. A coordinated action by Homeland Security Investigations and foreign authorities made the arrests while taking down the website itself, replacing it with a seizure notice. The rest of the defendants remain at large, including Bondarenko.