The US Department of Justice (DoJ) yesterday filed charges against two Russian hackers, who appear to be behind a long-term phishing operation targeting users of three cryptocurrency exchanges. The two Russian hackers are accused of creating sites "clones" of cryptocurrency exchanges Poloniex, Binance and Gemini, in order to attract them users in these fakes sites and collect them credentials of their accounts. Their phishing business started in June 2017.
According to US officials, the two Russian hackers - Danil Potekhin (also known as cronuswar) and Dmitrii Karasavidi - residing in Voronezh and Moscow respectively, during their phishing operation, used the stolen credentials to obtain access to the victims accounts and steal them cryptobodies Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) that were inside them.
U.S. officials estimate that hundreds of people have been killed and hundreds more injured in what became known as the Cold War. In particular, the court documents report 313 misled users Poloniex, 142 Binance users and 42 Gemini users. Total losses are estimated at $ 16.876.000.
According to the indictment, the Russian hackers transferred the stolen money to intermediaries accounts created using fake identities, as well as on other cryptocurrency exchange portals, such as Poloniex, Binance, Gemini and Bittrex.
According to ZDNet, the US Treasury Department said yesterday in a press release that despite the efforts to launder the stolen money in different exchanges, accounts and block chains, some of the money stolen by the two hackers has been located and confiscated by the US Secret Service. Also, officials of the Ministry of Finance imposed sanctions to the two accused.
However, as the DoJ points out, the two Russian hackers not only stole money but also manipulated the market, using cheap altcoins (alternatively cryptocurrency). Indicatively, a DoJ official, citing an incident that occurred in July 2017, stated that the defendants first created fake accounts in the same platform each account bought a cheap digital currency known as “GAS” before the manipulation.
Later, on October 29, 2017, the defendants took control of the victims' accounts and used the digital currency in their possession, worth more than $ 5.000.000 at the time, to buy GAS at the same time, which increased the price and the demand. Defendants and their conspirators quickly converted digital currency into fake accounts from GAS to Bitcoin and other digital currencies, causing the value of GAS to fall.
David Anderson, an attorney in Northern California, said the two Russian hackers face up to 59 years in prison for their crimes. It is worth noting, however, that both remain free so far.