Two Romanian men ended up extradited from Romania to the United States after their indictment for a voice phishing (vishing) and SMS phishing (smishing) attack, Department of Justice officials (DoJ) said.
Teodor Laurentiu Costea, 41, and Robert Codrut Dumitrescu, 40, ended up charged last year with wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud and abuse, and aggravated identity theft. A third suspect, Cosmin Draghici, 28, is in custody in Romania awaiting extradition.
All three suspects are from Ploiesti, Romania, and face charges with launching vishing and smishing attacks from Romania.
The attack involved delivering messages supposedly coming from a legitimate source, in this case a bank, through a voice recording or a text message.
Costea and Dumitrescu were looking for vulnerable computers in the U.S. and were installing interactive voice response software capable of automatically interacting with call recipients, according to the indictment.
The indictment said the attackers used computers in the Atlanta area to install software to initiate fraudulent, automated telephone calls and text messages to victims in the United States.
The messages, coming from a financial institution, reported there was a problem with the victim’s account and instructed victims to call a telephone number.
When the victims called the number, however, the interactive voice response software asked them to enter their bank account numbers, PINs, and full or partial Social Security numbers. Stored on the compromised computers, the stolen information, DoJ officials said, was then sold by the suspects or used with assistance from Draghici.
When arrested in Romania, Costea possessed 36,051 fraudulently obtained financial account numbers, DoJ said. The scheme resulted in estimated financial losses of more than $18 million.
“While in Romania, the defendants allegedly targeted victims throughout the U.S., including in the Northern District of Georgia, stealing personal information and possibly causing millions of dollars in losses,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said.
“Our message to the victims of cyber fraud is that the FBI won’t let geographic boundaries stop us from pursuing and prosecuting the persons who cause them tremendous financial pain,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta.