Belarusian Proprietor of International Identity Theft Website Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court
Dmitry Naskovets Operated Callservice.biz and Targeted Banks Using Stolen Identity Information
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 23, 2011|
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that 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—pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and credit card fraud. Through Callservice.biz, NASKOVETS helped other online fraudsters use stolen information by providing English language calling services to trick banks in the United States. NASKOVETS was arrested in the Czech Republic in April 2010 as part of a multinational law enforcement operation, and he was subsequently extradited to the United States. He pled guilty this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge HENRY B. PITMAN in Manhattan federal court.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: "Dmitry Naskovets thought he could hide in the dark recesses of the Internet, assisting thousands of thieves in defrauding American banks and other institutions, but he was mistaken. This case was a model of international cooperation, and serves as a warning to anyone who thinks they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet and outside the United States to commit fraud. With our partners at the FBI and our law enforcement colleagues around the world, this Office will pursue identity thieves and their co-conspirators wherever they may hide."
According to the Indictment and other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made at court proceedings:
In June 2007, NASKOVETS, a Belarusian national, and coconspirator SERGEY SEMASKO, also a Belarusian national who is charged in Belarus, 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 designed to counteract security measures put in place by financial institutions to, for example, prevent fraud when account holders try to make transfers or withdrawals from their accounts. 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. So 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 defeat the above-described security screening processes. Specifically, they would 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. 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 for the purpose of extradition 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 FBI in New York simultaneously seized the Website domain name "Callservice.biz" pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by U.S. District Judge LEWIS A. KAPLAN, to whom the criminal case is also assigned.
NASKOVETS, 26, faces a maximum sentence of 37 ½ years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 26, 2011.
Mr. BHARARA praised the FBI for its exceptional work on the investigation. He also thanked the Department of Justice Criminal Division'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.