Uncovering a Host of Fraudulent Activity
The accused Sergey Sergeyevich Medvedev fled to Bangkok from Russia from where he had been operating Infraud. He was arrested on February 2, 2018, from his Bangkok apartment by local police at the request of U.S. authorities. He had been living there for the past year with his wife.
CSD investigators confirmed the recovery of a laptop belonging to Medvedev. The raid also revealed that the culprit had more than 100,000 bitcoin in his possession, worth roughly at press time $886,596,000.
Sergey Medvedev was the co-founder of the Infraud Organization along with Svyatoslav Bondarenko. Since November 2010, Medvedev had been an active member on the organization’s website. He was among the leaders of the organization along with Bondarenko, and both of them held the role of administrators within the organization. After Bondarenko went missing in 2015, Medvedev became the sole owner and administrator of the Infraud Organization.
The Infraud Organization was a cybercrime organization that had been operating since October 2010. The group, whose motto was “In Fraud We Trust,” was primarily involved in stealing personal credit card and online banking information and also selling this information over the dark web.
The US Justice Department stated that the organization, as of March 2017, had 10,901 members. Its members traded more than 4.3 million credit cards, debit cards, and bank accounts worldwide, causing losses of more than $530 million for legitimate users and businesses.
The arrest of Medvedev comes at a time when a total of thirteen people associated with the running of Infraud were arrested worldwide. Five of those were arrested by the US while others were arrested by Italy, France, Russia, Canada, Egypt, Pakistan, and Macedonia.
As reported by Bangkok Times, the Russian suspect in detention wasn’t in the CSD’s custody, and it remained unconfirmed whether he was being detained by the Immigration Bureau or Special Branch Bureau.
The Department of Justice in the United States District Court Nevada on February 7, 2018, had launched an indictment against 36 people whose role varied from administrators, moderators, and sellers at Infraud.
As written in the official indictment, all 36 individuals are accused of money laundering, trafficking in stolen means of identification, trafficking in production and use of counterfeit identification, identity theft, trafficking in production and use of unauthorized and counterfeit access devices, bank fraud and wire fraud, as well as services associated with all of the above.
It is likely that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were used as the main transport vehicle for these crimes.
As per the official press release issued by the Justice Department, U.S. Attorney Elieson says:, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is steadfastly committed to protecting America’s national and economic security.” He further added that:
“Criminals cannot hide behind their computer screens. We are working vigilantly with American and international law enforcement partners to identify and disrupt transnational cybercrime organizations, such as the Infraud Organization.”
“Today’s indictment and arrests mark one of the largest cyber fraud enterprise prosecutions ever undertaken by the US Department of Justice,” Acting Assistant US Attorney General John Cronan said in a statement.
Heavy Data Bags
As per another BBC article, it is reported that in 2011, one of the accused was reported to be in possession of 795,000 UK logins to HSBC bank available for sale. Two years later, another is alleged to have advertised 1,300 compromised PayPal account credentials. Other specific accusations include adverts for Visa, Mastercard, and American Express credit card numbers.
Infraud now joins the list of other cryptocurrency-oriented dark web marketplaces like Silk Road and Alphabay. Infraud remained active for more than seven years. As reported by Wired, the forum was initially hosted as a traditional website, reachable at the URLs infraud.cc and infraud.ws, though it may have later been moved. They ran the site from a server beyond US law enforcement’s reach, likely Russia.
However, the end of Infraud came after coordinated efforts by law enforcement agencies across United States, Europe, Australia and Asia.