Feds: Indicted Russian hackers ensnared town of Egremont in widespread cybercrime scheme

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The town of Egremont is among the suspected victims of an international bank fraud scheme allegedly committed by two Russian nationals.

It's not clear how much might have been stolen in the cyber heist, which took place in 2009, according to two recently released federal indictments charging the leaders of the powerhouse cybercriminal gang "Evil Corp."

The Department of Justice on Thursday announced charges against Maksim Yakubets, 32, and Igor Turashev, 38, for two separate international schemes involving "Zeus" and "Bugat" malware.

Egremont was among 21 municipalities, banks, companies and nonprofits that Yakubets and his co-conspirators are alleged to have victimized using the Zeus malware from May 2009 to May 2010, according to an FBI affidavit filed in Lincoln, Neb.

Yakubets and Turashev also are named in a Pennsylvania case involving the Bugat malware, which allegedly was crafted to defeat anti-virus and other protective measures employed by victims.

"For over a decade, Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev led one of the most sophisticated transnational cybercrime syndicates in the world," U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said in a written statement. "Deploying `Bugat' malware, also known as `Cridex' and `Dridex,' these cybercriminals targeted individuals and companies in western Pennsylvania and across the globe in one of the most widespread malware campaigns we have ever encountered."

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The deployment of the malware resulted in the attempted theft of an estimated $220 million, with actual losses of an estimated $70 million from victims' bank accounts.

During summer 2009, Yakubets and co-conspirators allegedly used the Zeus malware to access stolen information and cause Salisbury Bank & Trust to transfer money from the town of Egremont's account to accounts belonging to the group, according to the unsealed Nebraska complaint. 

The complaint does not identify the loss to the small Southern Berkshire town. Attempts were unsuccessful to reach officials in the town, which has an operating budget of a little more than $4 million."Yakubets' role in the Zeus scheme was to provide money mules and their associated banking credentials in order to facilitate the movement of money, which was withdrawn from victim accounts by fraudulent means," the statement said.

The State Department's Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information on Yakubets. It is the largest reward offer for a cybercriminal to date, according to the Department of Justice.

"The actions highlighted today, which represent a continuing trend of cyber-criminal activity emanating from Russian actors, were particularly damaging as they targeted U.S. entities across all sectors and walks of life," FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said Thursday. "The FBI, with the assistance of private industry and our international and U.S. government partners, is sending a strong message that we will work together to investigate and hold all criminals accountable. Our memory is long and we will hold them accountable under the law, no matter where they attempt to hide."

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.

The State Department's Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information on Yakubets. It is the largest reward offer for a cybercriminal to date, according to the Department of Justice.

"The actions highlighted today, which represent a continuing trend of cyber-criminal activity emanating from Russian actors, were particularly damaging as they targeted U.S. entities across all sectors and walks of life," FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said Thursday. "The FBI, with the assistance of private industry and our international and U.S. government partners, is sending a strong message that we will work together to investigate and hold all criminals accountable. Our memory is long and we will hold them accountable under the law, no matter where they attempt to hide."

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.


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