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10 February 2018, 02:09 | Kenneth Drake
Justice Dept. charges 36 alleged scammers for $530 million cyber-fraud scheme
Prosecutors said the alleged crime ring operated through an internet forum called "Infraud".
According to the indictment, Infraud members held defined roles within the organisation's hierarchy.
Infraud members were allegedly responsible for losses exceeding US$530 to consumers and businesses. The Justice Department indicted 36 members of the group, and 13 individuals were arrested with cooperation from law enforcement agencies in six countries.
Of the 36 people indicted, 13 have been arrested in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Serbia and Kosovo, the breakaway Serbian province the USA has recognized as an independent state.
Prosecutors claim the three-dozen alleged scammers meant to generate upwards of $2.2 billion in stolen revenue from consumers, businesses, and financial institutions. It had 10,901 approved "members" registered to buy and sell with it a year ago.
A nine-count superseding indictment by a federal grand jury in Las Vegas, unsealed on Wednesday, charges 36 individuals with a range of offenses, including racketeering conspiracy. Infraud also provided escrow services that facilitated illegal currency transactions between members.
According to the indictment, a 34-year-old Ukrainian named Svyatoslav Bondarkeno started the site in 2010, with the goal of making it the premier destination for stolen credit card information.
Infraud members used an online discussion forum to "discuss, meet, and conduct criminal activities", and to advertise them, the indictment said.
Thirteen members of the Infraud Organisation were arrested in the US, Australia, Britain, France, Italy, Kosovo and Serbia, it said. According to the indictment, after Bondarenko dropped out of sight in 2015, co-founder Sergey Medvedev took over leadership of the group.
It appears to have functioned as a conduit between potential buyers and sellers of stolen identity information, financial and banking data, malware and other unnamed "illicit goods".
Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department's Criminal Division said that the Infraud Organization "operated like a business to facilitate cyberfraud on a global scale". Vendors sold various illegal services to the members, while the moderators acted to help make sure everything worked and that vendors were selling quality products and services. Members remained anonymous to each other, knowing others only by their online handles.
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