Nebraska banks targeted in decade long Russian bank fraud scam

Published: Dec. 5, 2019 at 10:23 PM CST
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The Department of Justice unsealed documents today showing two Nebraska banks and one private business listed as targeted victims of the scheme.

It outlines how two Russian nationals stole tens of millions of dollars in what a Nebraska U.S. prosecutor calls one of the most outrageous cyber crimes in U.S. history.

In Washington D.C. today the U.S. Attorney for Nebraska said there were three victims from Nebraska. Two averted losses, the third lost over $150,000 dollars.

Investigators around the world are looking for two Russian nationals, Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev, accused of stealing about $70 million dollars.

“Quietly at computer terminals far, far away, these cyber criminals allegedly stole tens of millions of dollars from unwitting members of our business, nonprofit and governmental and religious

communities,” said Brain Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General.

In charges unsealed today the pair known as “Evil Corp” are accused of conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud and bank fraud for installing malware on victims computers to steal banking information.

“The methodology was similar each time,” said Joseph Kelly the U.S. Attorney for Nebraska. “Infect the business computer, obtain bank account numbers and security codes and initiate electronic funds transfers to money mules overseas.”

In the indictment two Nebraska banks and one business are listed.

“As to those three Nebraska intended victims, two were averted, in those cases there were no losses associated in those businesses but there was an actual loss of $159,000 with regard to the third,” said Kelly.

First National Bank of Omaha said in a statement to 10/11: “These indictments are related to crimes committed in 2009. The bank’s losses at that time were minimal and no customers experienced losses.”

The other two listed are Union Bank and Trust in Lincoln and Husker Ag an ethanol producer out of Plainview, in northeast Nebraska.

Documents show that the malware was installed on one of Husker Ag’s computers in 2010 and that the hackers attempted to transfer funds out of a bank account the company had with Union Bank and Trust. A spokesperson for Union Bank and Trust tells 10/11 that they were able to intervene and prevent any losses.

Thursday the Justice and Treasury Departments also announced sanctions against the Russian hacking group.

Authorities in the U.S. are offering a $5 million dollar reward and are working with officials in the U.K. to find the men.