UNITED STATES PROSECUTORS have indicted three men, two from the Ukraine and one from Brooklyn, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, conspiracy to commit identity theft, and aggravated identity theft.
The trio are named in a statement from the US Department of Justice (DoJ) as Oleksiy Sharapka, 33, and Leonid Yanovitsky, 39, both of Kiev, Ukraine, and Richard Gundersen, 47, of Brooklyn, NY. Gunderson is in custody, while the two Ukrainians are still at large (PDF).
The DoJ alleges that together they masterminded a scheme that saw them access bank accounts belonging to customers of 15 different financial firms, including E-Trade Electronic Payments, Fundtech Holdings, iPayment, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Nordstrom Bank, Paypal, Ameritrade, and the US Department of Defense, Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
"The defendants stole identities from individuals in the United States, which they used to facilitate the cash out operation, including by transferring money to cards in the names of those stolen identities. They also used some of those identities to file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS seeking refunds," said the DoJ.
"The defendants and their conspirators laundered the proceeds of the scheme, often through international wire transfer services, to the leaders of the conspiracy overseas. The government's ongoing investigation into the organisation has so far identified attempts to defraud the victim companies and their customers of more than $15 million."
Each individual faces a range of charges, including initiating an illegal wire transfer that carries a potential sentence of 20 years in prison. The possible penalties include potential fines, and the money laundering conspiracy count could draw a fine of $500,000 or up to twice the value of the monetary instruments involved. µ