A Russian computer hacker was accused Monday of leading a worldwide conspiracy that targeted hundreds of thousands of computers with malware, enabling his group to steal more than $100 million from business and other bank accounts.
The group led by the man, Evgeniy Bogachev, infected computers with software that captured passwords and account numbers and stole millions of dollars from victims, U.S. authorities said. The members of the gang come from Russia, Ukraine and Britain.
Bogachev is not in custody, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh, where charges of conspiracy, wire, bank and computer fraud, and money laundering were filed against him.
The charges, to be discussed at Justice Department news conference Monday, come weeks after officials revealed cyberespionage charges against five Chinese army hackers accused of stealing trade secrets from American firms.
The indictment against Bogachev concerns only one victim, Haysite Reinforced Plastics of Erie, in northwestern Pennsylvania. According to the indictment, the conspirators were able to steal roughly $824,000 from the company’s bank accounts on one day alone, Oct. 20, 2011.
Officials with the business did not immediately return phone calls for comment Monday. The accounts were with Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank, which declined to comment.
A related civil complaint gave other brief descriptions of victim entities including an unspecified American Indian tribe in Washington state; an insurance company and a firm that runs assisted living centers in Pennsylvania; a local police department in Massachusetts; a pest control company in North Carolina; and two Florida businesses, a restaurant and a regional bank.
The Florida bank lost nearly $7 million through an unauthorized wire transfer. The Massachusetts police department, on the other hand, lost $750 when it paid a ransom demanded by the malicious software that infected its computers.
Last week, a federal judge in Pittsburgh granted a temporary restraining order against Bogachev and the others, demanding that they cease such activities. That order was unsealed along with the charges Monday.
(Mandak reported from Pittsburgh.)
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