Bogachev was indicted (2) by a federal grand jury in the District of Nebraska in August 2012 under his cyber nickname of “lucky12345” for Conspiracy to Participate in Racketeering Activity; Bank Fraud; Conspiracy to Violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act; Conspiracy to Violate the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act; and Aggravated Identity Theft.
In May 2014, he was indicted under his real identity by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania on charges of Conspiracy; Computer Fraud; Wire Fraud; Bank Fraud; and Money Laundering.
Bogachev is thought to be the head of a gang of Russian and Ukrainian cybercriminals. The gang specializes in hacking banking transactions with a piece of malware called GameOver Zeus (GOZ) (3), a modified version of Zeus Trojan.
The malware is thought to have infected a million computer systems worldwide and has stolen a total of $100 million since September 2011. The FBI, in coordination with law enforcement agencies in other countries, believes it has neutralized the malware, at least for the time being.
Previously, Bogachev’s gang used a phishing and spamming scheme that sent emails to people inviting them to visit certain websites. If recipients click on the links to these sites, their computers will be infected with malware that would then loot their bank accounts. The FBI has been investigating this area of Bogachev’s criminal enterprise since 2009.
Gameover Zeus has not only been used to infect computer systems to rob bank accounts but has also been used to deliver a piece of ransomware called Crytolocker (4), which encrypts files on a computer system, thus holding them hostage, and offers to decrypt them in exchange for payment either through a prepaid voucher or Bitcoin.
Bogachev is thought to be residing currently somewhere in Russia. This fact presents something of a problem for the FBI and its desire to arrest him. The United States and Russia currently do not have an extradition treaty (5), and the government of Vladimir Putin has proven to be reluctant to return fugitives from American justice voluntarily.
Indeed, Putin has an added incentive not to lay hands on Bohachev and give him to the FBI. According to Stratfor, Russian organized crime (6) has insinuated itself throughout every aspect of Russian society, including private business and the government.
Indeed, it can be said that there is little distinction between the Russian government and the Russian Mafia. The power of Russian organized crime is also extant in the former Soviet Republics. The levels of corruption that exist, as a result, are virtually unprecedented.
It is likely that Putin’s government receives payoffs from gangs like Bogachev’s in return for protection and looking the other way. Even if Putin or some other Russian leader were to attempt to suppress organized crime in that country, he would almost certainly be targeted for death.
While the FBI cannot touch Bogachev when he is inside Russia, the Bureau hopes that one day he will want to travel. Then, it is entirely possible that he will be spotted by someone who wants to collect the reward. Anyone encountering Bogochev is urged not to approach him, as he is considered dangerous and a flight risk, but instead to immediately contact the nearest FBI office or American embassy.
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