Hackers target businesses for cyberfraud

As the threat of cyberterrorism proliferates, cybercrime against business is rampant. In August a federal court in Dallas sentenced a Nigerian citizen in the U.S. on a student visa to nearly four years in prison for his role in a “business-email-compromise” scheme.

Amechi Colvis Amuegbunam, 30, pleaded guilty in March 2017 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He has been in custody since August 2015. For two years before that, he and others sent fraudulent emails to companies in Texas and elsewhere that induced those companies to wire funds as instructed on a pdf document attached to the email.

Amuegbunam sent targeted spear-phishing emails constructed to look like forwarded messages from the companies’ top executives. The messages went to employees in each target company’s accounting department who had authority to make financial transfers on the company’s behalf.

The emails actually came from a fake email account made to look legitimate, and from a fraudulent domain name that had only a slight difference from the company’s actual domain — transposed letters.

At least 10 companies fell prey to the fraud and incurred losses totaling some $3.7 million. The investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI and U.S. attorney.

1.3 million stolen cards

A Macedonian citizen, Djevair Ametovski, also known as “xhevo,” “sindrom” and “sindromx,” pleaded guilty in August to access-device fraud and aggravated identity theft for operating the Codeshop website to sell data from stolen credit and debit cards, bank-account credentials and personal identification. Data was stolen for more than 1.3 million cards.

Ametovski obtained data through hacking and phishing. He worked with co-conspirators to steal account data by hacking into computer databases of financial institutions and other businesses. He used phishing scams with forged emails to induce account holders to give up private information.

Customers of the Codeshop online store could search the website for stolen data specifically by bank identification number, financial institution, country, state and card brand. Stolen card data could be used to encode fake credit and debit cards and withdraw cash at ATMs. Online money exchangers used digital currencies such as bitcoin to conceal their identities and gain from the data theft.

“Cybercriminals such as the defendant profit directly from mass hacking of online businesses and theft of personal and financial information, and provide a platform for others to do the same,” said Bridget Rohde, acting U.S. attorney.

The Secret Service led investigations into the crimes and worked with the Slovenian Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Justice to apprehend and extradite Ametovski in 2016. He faces up to 15 years in prison for access-device fraud and aggravated identity theft.

“Technology has essentially erased geographic boundaries and changed the way criminals do business,” said David Beach, special agent-in-charge, U.S. Secret Service office in New York. “The Secret Service continues to develop innovative ways to combat emerging cyber threats.”