Law enforcement officials, either locally, nationally or globally are really starting to strike back against cyber criminals as a federal jury in New Haven, CT, found a Romanian citizen guilty of conspiracy in a phishing case.
Bogdan Boceanu, 29, of Romania, is guilty of conspiracy offenses stemming from his participation in an extensive Internet phishing scheme, said David B. Fein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in New Haven.
The trial started December 6 and the jury returned its verdict Tuesday. He is the 10th Romanian citizen convicted as a result of this long-term investigation.
While this case focused on the banking industry, it goes to show the depth and coverage criminals will go to glean as much data, information and money they can get their hands on.
“This case shows the resolve of federal law enforcement to bring to justice individuals who use the Internet to victimize U.S. residents and companies,” Fein said.
“Today’s guilty verdict represents the tenth conviction in this lengthy, complex, and significant investigation,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Mertz. “The FBI has a crucial message to those who are inclined to commit similar crimes: Our reach is global, and working with our exceptional international law enforcement partners, as in Romania, we have the ability to extradite you from across the world. Whether or not you ever step foot in this country, if you commit crimes against the United States, and in this case by operating a sophisticated Internet phishing scheme, the FBI will find you and bring you to justice.”
According to the evidence presented during the trial, in June 2005, a resident of Madison, CT, contacted the FBI in New Haven about a suspicious email she had received that purported to be from Connecticut-based People’s Bank. The email stated the bank locked the recipient’s online banking access and instructed the recipient to click on a link to a web page where the recipient could enter information to “unlock” his or her profile. The web page appeared to originate from People’s Bank but, as the investigation revealed, was actually on a compromised computer in Minnesota. Any personal identifying and financial information provided by the individual would go by email to individuals in Romania or to a “collector” account, an email account used to receive and collect the information obtained through phishing.
The co-conspirators were part of a loose-knit conspiracy of individuals from Craiova, Romania, and neighboring areas that shared files, tools, and stolen information obtained through phishing. The co-conspirators used and shared a number of collector accounts, which contained thousands of email messages that contained credit or debit card numbers, expiration dates, CVV codes, PIN numbers, and other personal identification information such as names, addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers. The co-conspirators then used the personal and financial information to access bank accounts and lines of credit and to withdraw funds without authorization, often from ATMs in Romania.
The evidence showed Boceanu exchanged with a co-conspirator emails containing numerous credit card numbers obtained through the scheme, and trial testimony revealed Boceanu received from another co-conspirator credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, and other identifying information of numerous victims. Boceanu also purchased a machine used to encode stolen account information on magnetic strips on credit and debit cards.
In addition to People’s Bank, financial institutions and companies targeted by the defendants included Citibank, Capital One, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Comerica Bank, Regions Bank, LaSalle Bank, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo & Co., eBay, and PayPal.
This seven-year investigation has resulted in criminal charges against 19 Romanian citizens. On January 18, 2007, a grand jury in New Haven returned an indictment charging seven defendants with various offenses stemming from this scheme. On November 10, 2010, a grand jury returned a second superseding indictment charging an additional 12 defendants.
Officials extradited the first three defendants to face charges from Bulgaria, Croatia, and Canada. Following the ratification in 2010 of an amended treaty on mutual legal assistance between Romania and the United States, seven defendants ended up extradited from Romania: Bogdan Boceanu, Bogdan-Mircea Stoica, Dragos Razvan Davidescu, Laurentiu Cristian Busca, Gabriel Sain, Dragos Nicolae Draghici, and Andrei Bolovan.