Alleged break-ins to Chase accounts and a broader cyber-ATM fraud scheme have led to charges against eight suspected cyber thieves and the arrest of four.
An international ring of cyber thieves are being charged in a roughly $15 million attempt to game the digital networks of more than a dozen banks, federal agencies and financial services companies, including Citibank, PayPal, JPMorgan Chase, USAA and even the Department of Defense.
Between October 2012 and April 2013, law enforcement officials learned that hackers had gained unauthorized access to the personal bank accounts of about 40 Chase Bank customers, according to a criminal complaint. "After gaining access, hackers transferred funds from these accounts to multiple pre-paid American Express debit cards controlled by the Sharapka Cash Out Organization." Oleksiy Sharapka of Kiev, Ukraine, is said to be the leader of the scheme; he was deported from the U.S. in 2012 after serving time in federal prison. The Sharapka Cash Out Organization attempted to steal approximately $60,000 from Chase customers' accounts.
The suspected cyber criminals then launched a complicated ATM Cash-Out scheme not unlike the recent $45 million cyber heist that ensnared two overseas banks and their processors. The hackers brought on others ("cashers") to hit the machines and withdraw the stolen money.
Those funds were then wired overseas to the alleged masterminds of the operation. Each is being charged in federal court with fraud, ID theft and money laundering.
"Today's charges and arrests take out key members of the organization, including leaders of crews in three states that used those stolen identities to 'cash out' hacked accounts in a series of internationally coordinated modern-day bank robberies," said New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman in a press release.
Sharapka directed the enterprise from Kiev with the aid of Leonid Yanovitsky, who also lives in Kiev; Oleg Pidtergerya of Brooklyn, NY.; Robert Dubuc of Malden, Mass.; and Andrey Yarmolitskiy of Atlanta.
The team managed cash-out crews in each of their cities.
The release went on to say that Richard Gundersen, 46, of Brooklyn, and Lamar Taylor, 37, of Salem, Mass, worked for Pidtergerya and Dubuc, respectively.
Finally, Ilya Ostapyuk of Brooklyn got everyone paid.
So far, Pidtergerya, Ostapyuk, Dubuc and Yarmolitskiy have been arrested.