US indicts three hackers

Three men accused of being members of an international cybercrime ring that tried to steal at least $15 million by hacking into U.S. customer accounts at 14 financial institutions and the Department of Defence’s payroll service, have been indicted.

Oleksiy Sharapka, 33, and Leonid Yanovitsky, 39, both of Kiev, Ukraine; and Richard Gundersen, 47, of Brooklyn, New York, were each indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit access device fraud and identity theft, and aggravated identity theft.

The trio were among eight charged.

According to US Attorney Paul Fishman, the gang hacked into accounts belonged to customers of Aon Hewitt, Automatic Data Processing, Citibank NA, PayPal, Electronic Payments, E*Trade, Fundtech Holdings, iPayment, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Nordstrom Bank, TD Ameritrade, TIAA-CREF, USAA, Veracity Payment Solutions, and the Defense Department’s finance and accounting service.

The court will hear how the men gained unauthorised access to networks, diverting customer funds to bank accounts and pre-paid debit cards, employing “cashers” to make ATM withdrawals and fraudulent purchases in Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and elsewhere.

They then used stolen identities to file false tax returns seeking refunds with the Internal Revenue Service.

The caper ran from March 2012, after Sharapka was deported after serving nearly 7-1/2 years in prison in Massachusetts, to around June 2013.

Prosecutors said Sharapka ran the conspiracy with help from Yanovitsky, and Gundersen helped move fraud proceeds. Each faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud conspiracy count.

The Ukrainian defendants have not been captured yet. Gundersen was expected to answer the charge in court later.

Charges against one of the other defendants, Ilya Ostapyuk of Brooklyn, were dismissed in September, court records show. The other four defendants either pleaded guilty or still face charges, a spokesman for Fishman said.