Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Extradition: US - Russian citizen extradited to face international cyber crime charges

U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Janice K. Fedarcyk, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of a nine-count indictment charging VLADIMIR ZDOROVENIN and his son, KIRILL ZDOROVENIN, two Russian citizens, with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, computer fraud, aggravated identity theft, and securities fraud. They were indicted under seal in May 2007. VLADIMIR ZDOROVENIN was apprehended on March 27, 2011, in Zurich, Switzerland, and arrived in New York yesterday following his extradition by Swiss authorities. He will be presented and arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein in Manhattan federal court later today. KIRILL ZDOROVENIN remains at large.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Cyber crime is a pandemic that makes geography meaningless. From far away, with the click of a mouse, the cyber criminal can victimize millions of people in the U.S. As alleged, Vladimir Zdorovenin and his son did exactly that; they engaged in serial cyber crimes in Russia that targeted Americans and wrought havoc with their personal and financial information, using it to make phony purchases and to manipulate stock prices. As the unsealing of today’s Indictment demonstrates, we will reach out across the globe, and wait as long as it takes to bring cyber criminals to justice.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk stated: “Mr. Zdorovenin’s egregious behavior illustrated the true colors of the cyber underground, as he and his son allegedly defrauded consumers of hundreds of thousands of dollars using methods that included compromised credit cards, all fronted through fictitious companies they had created. In addition, Zdorovenin allegedly installed malware to access victims’ brokerage accounts, trading victims’ securities and manipulating the price of stocks Zdorovenin already owned. This should serve as a stark reminder to anyone who believes he can commit cyber crime and hide behind the safety and anonymity of a Russian IP address; you are not beyond the reach of the FBI.”

According to the indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

At various times between 2004 and 2005, VLADIMIR ZDOROVENIN and his son KIRILL ZDOROVENIN allegedly engaged in a series of crimes in Russia that victimized citizens of the United States through the use of stolen credit card information, multiple phony websites, and bank accounts in Russia and Latvia. Specifically, the indictment alleges that the ZDOROVENINs stole victims’ personal identification information, including credit card numbers, through the use of computer programs that were surreptitiously installed on victims’ computers and that recorded the information as it was entered. The ZDOROVENINs also allegedly purchased stolen credit card numbers from other individuals, and used the stolen credit card information to make what appeared to be legitimate purchases of goods from various Internet businesses that they ran. However, as alleged, the purchases were fraudulent and were used as a means of deceiving banks, credit card service processors, credit card holders, and others, thereby enabling the ZDOROVENINS to steal the money they directed to their websites.

Additionally, as alleged in the indictment, the ZDOROVENINs, used the Internet to unlawfully access the financial services accounts of victims located in the United States and then transferred or attempted to transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars from those accounts to bank accounts under the ZDOROVENINs’ control. Finally, the Indictment charges that after taking over victims’ online brokerage accounts, the ZDOROVENINs bought and sold thousands of shares of certain companies’ stock in an effort to manipulate the prices of those stocks. The ZDOROVENINs allegedly realized profits through this scheme by simultaneously purchasing or selling shares of the same stocks through their own online brokerage account, maintained in the name of Rim Investment Management, Ltd.

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VLADIMIR ZDOROVENIN, 54, of Moscow, Russia, faces a maximum sentence of 142 years in prison in connection with the charges in the indictment. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. He also thanked the Office of International Affairs in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division for its assistance with the extradition.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys James J. Pastore, Jr. and Thomas G.A. Brown are in charge of the prosecution.

The charge and allegations contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.