A Russian man is facing hacking and conspiracy charges after a federal grand jury in Brooklyn indicted him Monday.
Anton Bogdanov, 33, of Russia is facing wire fraud conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and computer intrusion in connection with a scheme in which he and others used stolen personal information to file federal tax returns and fraudulently obtain more than $1.5 million in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service, said officials at the Department of Justice (DoJ).
Bogdanov was arrested on Phuket, Thailand, on November 28 last year and ended up extradited to the United States in March. Bogdanov will be arraigned at a later date.
“As alleged in the indictment, Bogdanov and his co-conspirators combined sophisticated computer hacking and identity theft with old-fashioned fraud to steal more than $1.5 million from the U.S. Treasury,” said Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
“In the digital age, many of us either fear having our personal information stolen, or have had it stolen,” said William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI). “This investigation revealed a major scheme to defraud the federal government and victimize tax payers. Mr. Bogdanov allegedly thought he could escape justice by hiding outside of our jurisdiction, but working together with our international partners, the FBI has the ability to capture and extradite criminals for their day in court.”
Between June 2014 and November 2016, Bogdanov and his co-conspirators misappropriated personally identifiable information (“PII”), such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth of identity theft victims, by gaining unauthorized access to the computer systems of private tax preparation firms in the United States, according to the indictment. They then changed the information on the tax returns so that the refunds were paid to prepaid debit cards that he and his co-conspirators controlled.
Bogdanov and his co-conspirators also used misappropriated PII to obtain prior tax filings of victims from an IRS website, and filed new tax returns, purportedly on behalf of the victims, so refunds were paid to prepaid debit cards under their control, according to the indictment. The debit cards were cashed out in the United States, and a percentage of the proceeds was wired to Bogdanov in Russia.
Since discovering this scheme, the IRS has added additional layers of security to its website.
If convicted, Bogdanov faces up to 27 years in prison.