Justice Department Indicts Russian Hacking Group Over Alleged Bank Fraud


Prosecutors say the charges stem from the creation of malware known as "Bugat", which was created to automate the theft of confidential personal and financial information, including online banking logins, from infected computers.

The State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are offering a $5 million reward for information leading to Yakubets' arrest and conviction, which officials say is the largest reward ever offered for an accused cybercriminal. The malware, they say, was specifically created to defeat antivirus software.

After the indictment was revealed, the US Treasury Department invoked the CAATSA sanctions bill to blacklist Yakubets, Turashev and 15 other people, along with seven companies - including "Evil Corp", a designation that does not appear in the DOJ statements but nevertheless somehow became the widely used name for the alleged crime syndicate in the US press. "Later versions of the malware were designed with the added function of assisting in the installation of ransomware".

Specifically, Evil Corp used the malware known as Dridex to "infect computers and harvest login credentials from hundreds of banks and financial institutions in over 40 countries, causing more than $100 million in theft", according to the Treasury Department.

U.S. authorities said Mr Yakubets was also involved in a similar scheme using another form of malware - known as Zeus - which stole $70m from victims' bank accounts.

A photo showing luxurious life and super cars owned by these hackers.

"Yakubets allegedly has engaged in a decade-long cyber crime spree that deployed two of the most damaging pieces of financial malware ever used and resulted in tens of millions of dollars of losses to victims worldwide", said Brian A. Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General of DoJ's Criminal Division.

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Pressed further, the official added: "He also, as I suspect you know, likes Boris Johnson - prime minister Johnson, personally". However, Johnson said he would walk out of trade negotiations if including the health service was a pre-condition.

The FBI are seeking two Russian nationals in widespread malware attacks.

Turashev was also a key figure within the Evil Corp cybercriminal organization as he was involved in exploiting the infected victims' computing systems and networks.

Dridex distributor Andrey "Smilex" Ghinkul was also arrested in 2015.

Victims included a Franciscan Sisters religious order, a Pennsylvania district school board, an oil company and a gun manufacturer.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called the group "one of the world's most prolific cybercriminal organizations" in what he called a "money mule" cybercrime. "This coordinated action is meant to disrupt the massive phishing campaigns orchestrated by this Russian-based hacker group". Both are believed to now reside in Russian Federation, according to FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich.

United States news outlets also said that treasury officials believed that Yakubets had committed other cybercrimes on behalf of the Russian government, as part of a scheme where Russian intelligence agencies recruit criminal hackers in order to target entities related to national security.