Two Russian nationals have been indicted for their role in stealing millions of dollars from bank accounts using some of the largest pieces of malware. The US and UK law enforcement officials announced charges on Igor Turashev, 38, and Maksim Yakubets, 32, in the decade-long series of hacking and bank fraud offences.
“Maksim Yakubets allegedly has engaged in a decade-long cybercrime spree that deployed two of the most damaging pieces of financial malware ever used and resulted in tens of millions of dollars of losses to victims worldwide,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.
A US attorney said that Turashev and Yakubets led one of the most sophisticated transnational cybercrime syndicates in the world. Both of them have been charged with conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, and bank fraud, in connection with the distribution of 'Bugat'. The malware 'Bugat' was specifically designed to counter anti-virus and other measures deployed by cyber victims. Developers of Bugat added more functionality to improve it and the name of the malware changed to 'Cridex', and later 'Dridex'.
According got the indictment, the Bugat malware allowed computer intruders to hijack a computer session and present a fake online banking webpage to trick a user into entering personal and financial information. The accused used the malware, designed to automate the theft of financial information, to capture banking credentials and make unauthorised electronic funds transfers. They then allegedly used a different group of people, known as ‘money mules’, to get the stolen funds into their bank accounts and later withdraw the funds and transport it overseas as smuggled bulk cash. Any person with information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of each of the accused will be rewarded with up to $5 million.
“The actions highlighted today, which represent a continuing trend of cyber-criminal activity emanating from Russian actors, were particularly damaging as they targeted U.S. entities across all sectors and walks of life,” said FBI Deputy Director Bowdich.