Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Extradition from the Czech Republic of Belarusian Creator of International Identity Theft Website
Dmitry Naskovets Allegedly Ran Online Business Targeting Financial Institutions and Committed Over 5,000 Frauds
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 20, 2010|
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the extradition of DMITRY M. NASKOVETS—creator and operator of CallService.biz, an online business that assisted over 2,000 identity thieves in over 5,000 instances of fraud—from the Czech Republic on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit credit card fraud, and aggravated identity theft. NASKOVETS, 26, consented to extradition and arrived in the Southern District of New York late Friday. He was presented today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge MICHAEL H. DOLINGER.
According to the Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court:
In June 2007, NASKOVETS, a Belarusian national, and coconspirator SERGEY SEMASKO, also a Belarusian national who is charged by the Belarusians, created CallService.biz (the "website"), an online business intended to assist identity thieves in exploiting stolen financial information, such as credit card and debit card numbers. The website was, among other things, designed to counteract security measures put in place by financial institutions. These security measures, for example, require persons seeking to make transfers or withdrawals from accounts, or to conduct other financial transactions to verify by telephone certain information associated with the account. Businesses that accept online or telephone purchases by credit card have similar security measures. Representatives at such financial institutions and businesses are trained to make sure that persons purporting over the telephone to be account holders appear to fit the account holder’s profile. For example, if an account holder is an American female, the screener is supposed to make sure that the caller speaks English, and does in fact sound like a female.
Through the website, NASKOVETS and SEMASHKO, in exchange for a fee, provided the services of English- and German-speaking individuals to persons who had stolen account and biographical information to beat the above-described security screening processes. Specifically, those English and German speakers would, among other things, pose as authorized account holders and place telephone calls to financial institutions and other businesses to conduct or confirm fraudulent withdrawals, transactions, or other account activity on behalf of the website users who were identity thieves. Using information provided by the identity thieves over the website, which was hosted on a computer in Lithuania, the fraudulent callers would, among other things, confirm unauthorized withdrawals or transfers from bank accounts, unblock accounts, or change the address or phone number associated with an account so that it could be accessed by the identity thieves.
For example, a request made to the website could consist of the name of the bank the identity thief wanted to contact, the stolen account information and biographical information the thief had illegally obtained, and instructions from the identity thief as to what to say, or the fraudulent transaction that was to be conducted, during a phone call to the bank. NASKOVETS and his co-conspirators would assign an appropriate individual employed by the Website, namely one who was the same gender and spoke the same language as the authorized account holder. After the requested call was made, NASKOVETS and his co-conspirators would report the results to the identity thief, who could issue instructions for further telephone calls, if necessary.
The website posted advertisements for its services on other websites used by identity thieves, including CardingWorld.cc, which was operated by SEMASHKO. The advertisements boasted that the website had "over 2090 people working with" it and had "done over 5400 confirmation calls" to banks, referencing calls to defeat security screening procedures and confirm or conduct fraudulent transactions, as described above.
NASKOVETS was arrested by Czech enforcement authorities on April 15, 2010, at the request of the United States. Also on April 15, 2010, in a joint operation, Belarusian law enforcement authorities arrested SEMASHKO in Belarus and Lithuanian law enforcement authorities seized the computers on which the Website was hosted. Belarusian authorities also arrested additional co-conspirators for related criminal conduct. In addition, the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") simultaneously seized the website domain name pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by U.S. District Judge LEWIS A. KAPLAN, to whom the criminal case is also assigned.
The Indictment charges NASKOVETS with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft. If convicted on all three counts, NASKOVETS faces a maximum sentence of 39 and one-half years in prison.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: "The extradition of Dmitry Naskovets is the result of exemplary cooperation between U.S. and international law enforcement agencies. Naskovets allegedly operated an online, one-stop-shop for identity thieves and fraudsters, aimed at compromising the security measures financial institutions use to protect their customers. We will continue to work with the FBI and our partners abroad to identify and stop cybercriminals wherever they execute their illegal trade."
Mr. BHARARA praised the FBI for its exceptional work on the investigation, and thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs, High Tech Crime Department, the Police Presidium of the Czech Republic, and the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau Cybercrime Board for their assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys THOMAS G.A. BROWN and MICHAEL FERRARA are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and NASKOVETS is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.