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FBI Hunting Russian Hackers Accused of Local Gov Thefts

Two Russian nationals are wanted by the FBI for widespread malware attacks that robbed dozens of entities nationwide of $70 million, including the town of Egremont in Berkshire County, Mass.

by Ray Kelly, MassLive.com / December 6, 2019
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(TNS) — Two Russian nationals are wanted by the FBI for widespread malware attacks that robbed dozens of entities nationwide of $70 million, including the town of Egremont in Berkshire County, Mass.

Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev are accused of being members of a long-running conspiracy to employ widespread computer intrusions, malicious software, and fraud to steal millions of dollars from bank accounts in at least 11 states, according to a 32-page criminal complaint unsealed Thursday. The deployment of the “Zeus” malware resulted in the attempted theft of $220 million with actual losses estimated at $70 million from victims’ bank accounts.

The pair allegedly infected thousands of business computers with malicious software that captured passwords, account numbers, and other information necessary to log into online banking accounts, and have then used the captured information to steal millions of dollars from victims’ bank accounts.

Malware was installed on a town of Egremont computer on July 8, 2009. Three weeks later, the software was used to transfer an unspecified amount of money out of a town of Egremeont account at Salisbury Bank & Trust, according to the complaint.

Other targets ranged from Franciscan nuns in Chicago to an Ohio dairy company.

“Maksim Yakubets allegedly has engaged in a decade-long cybercrime 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 Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski in a statement. “These two cases demonstrate our commitment to unmasking the perpetrators behind the world’s most egregious cyberattacks. The assistance of our international partners, in particular the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom, was crucial to our efforts to identify Yakubets and his co-conspirators.”

Yakubets, who is linked to Russia’s Federal Security Service, was the leader of the hacking operation and Turashev was his assistant, according to prosecutors. The two men were indicted in Pittsburgh but their whereabouts are unknown.

The State Department and the FBI are offering a $5 million reward for information that leads to Yakubets’ arrest and conviction.

©2019 MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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