News 12 – Home
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Justice last week joined with the U.S. Department of State and the United Kingdom's National Crime Agency in charging two Russian nationals with a vast and long-running cybercrime spree that stole from thousands of individuals and organizations in the United States and abroad.
Along with several co-conspirators, Maksim V. Yakubets, 38 from Moscow Russia, and Igor Turashev, 38, from Yoshkar-Ola, Russia, were charged with infecting tens of thousands of computers with a malicious code called Bugat. Once installed, the computer code, also known as Dridex or Cridex, allowed the criminals to steal banking credentials and funnel money directly out of victims' accounts. The long-running scheme involved a number of different code variants, and later version also installed ransomware on victim computers. The criminals then demanded payment in cryptocurrency for returning vital data or restoring access to critical systems.
Assisted in some cases by money mules who funneled the stolen funds through U.S. bank accounts before shipping the money overseas, the group stole or extorted tens of millions of dollars from victims. Among those affected was a Pennsylvania school district that saw $999,000 wired out of its accounts and an oil company that lost more than $2 million.
The FBI, in partnership with the State Department's Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program, also announced a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Yakubets, who is alleged to be the leader of the scheme. The reward is the largest ever offered for a cyber criminal.
"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 Friday. "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."
According to the charges, the co-conspirators distributed the malware through email phishing campaigns. In the early years, these messages were sent in massive, widespread campaigns. More recent attacks have been more strategic-specifically targeting businesses and organizations that have valuable computer systems and access to significant financial resources.
Victims were tricked into opening a document or clicking on a graphic or link that appeared to be from a legitimate source. The link or attachment downloaded the malicious code onto the user's machine, where it could also spread to any networked computers.
According to FBI Supervisory Special Agent Steven Lampo, this campaign deployed a stealth type of malware designed to avoid detection by antivirus software. "The full program does too much and is too big to avoid detection," Lampo said Friday. The smaller piece of code, however, can inject itself into the running processes of the machine-beginning a process that allows the full suite of malware to load onto the machine or network. The malware's creators were constantly creating new variants of the code to avoid antivirus tools.
FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich
"Although their realm is a digital one, this is one of the world's largest organized crime groups," FBI Supervisory Special Agent Adam Lawson of the Major Cyber Crimes Unit said Friday. "They are personally getting rich, and new organizations and individuals are being victimized every day."
Turashev and Yakubets were both indicted in Pittsburgh the Western District of Pennsylvania on conspiracy to commit fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud, among other charges. Yakubets was also tied to charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud issued in Lincoln in the District of Nebraska after investigators were able to connect him to the indicted moniker "aqua" from that case, which involved another malware variant known as Zeus.
Russian National Charged with Decade-Long Series of Hacking and Bank Fraud Offenses Resulting in Tens of Millions in Losses and Second Russian National Charged with Involvement in Deployment of "Bugat" Malware
News 12 – Home
A somber ceremony was held Saturday at the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center to mark the 78th anniversary of the surprise Japanese attack on the Hawaii naval base.
President Trump announced Friday that he will hold off on officially declaring Mexican cartels terrorist organizations while he works with the Mexican president “to deal decisively” with the issue.
Four people were killed and two injured in a shooting on Saturday near Mexico’s National Palace, the presidential residence in the capital’s historic downtown, officials said.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was in southeastern Mexico on Saturday.
Preliminary reports indicated that an armed man entered a building on a small street near the palace looking to relieve himself, Mexico City police said.
After two people in the building reproached him, the man withdrew a pistol and opened fire. When police arrived, they found four people with gunshot wounds lying in the building’s courtyard, and shot at the gunman.
Paramedics found the gunman dead, along with two other people, the police said. One of three people who sustained injuries died en route to the hospital.
More than 100 police officers rapidly arrived and cordoned off the street, according to television images.
The building sits in a narrow street that opens onto an entrance of the National Palace used daily by government staff and reporters.
The House Judiciary Committee defended the process to build a case for impeachment against Donald Trump, dismissing the president’s complaint about a lack of first-hand evidence and his claim to exert sweeping powers.
The 55-page majority staff report reviews the historical record on impeachment as envisioned by the drafters of the U.S. Constitution, which was the subject of a hearing this week.
The report also tackles “six falsehoods” about the process, including the lack of first-hand evidence, the lack of a role for Trump’s lawyers in the House proceeding, and Trump’s claim that he can “do whatever I want.”
“The Constitution does not prescribe rules of evidence for impeachment proceedings,” the Democratic staff said in the report released Saturday. “The House is constitutionally authorized to consider any evidence that it believes may illuminate the issues before it.”
Judiciary Committee Democrats are working this weekend, and by Thursday could begin to draft the articles of impeachment that will shape debate in a Senate trial. The next formal step is a hearing on Monday where counsels for both parties on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees will lay out the findings of the investigations.
Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, said the current inquiry has raised “several issues of constitutional law” not considered during the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton cases.
“The framers worst nightmare is what we are facing in this very moment,” Nadler said in a statement releasing the report. “President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain. The Constitution details only one remedy for this misconduct: impeachment.”
The report dismissed Republican arguments that the president’s actions weren’t impeachable because the aid approved by Congress for Ukraine -- a major focus of the impeachment inquiry -- eventually was released, and an investigation Trump sought into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son never began. “Attempted presidential wrongdoing can be impeachable,” it said.
The report also rejected Trump’s assertion, made on July 23 in front of a group of students, that his actions were protected by a clause in the Constitution that outlines the powers of the president.
“This claim is wrong, and profoundly so, because our Constitution rejects pretensions to monarchy and binds Presidents with law,” according to the report. “That is true even of powers vested exclusively in the chief executive.”
The report said the factual record so far is “formidable” with “highly reliable” evidence, even without additional witnesses sought by the House.
“It goes without saying, however, that the record might be more expansive if the House had full access to the documents and testimony it has lawfully subpoenaed from government officials,” according to the report. “The reason the House lacks such access is an unprecedented decision by President Trump to order a total blockade of the House impeachment inquiry.”
The report notes that when prosecutors present evidence to a grand jury in a criminal case, the person under investigation has no right to question witnesses before charges are filed. A president’s right to question evidence is “properly secured at trial in the Senate, where he may be afforded an opportunity to present an evidentiary defense and test the strength of the House’s case,” the report said.