WASHINGTON, April 11 Nine people have been
charged in an alleged international conspiracy that used
malicious software to gather bank account details and use the
information to steal millions of dollars, including from
accounts held at a Nebraska bank, the Department of Justice said
Two of the defendants, both Ukrainian nationals who were
living in the UK, have been extradited to face charges in
Nebraska, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Four other defendants, who live in the Ukraine and in Russia
according to court documents, remain at large. The three other
defendants have not yet been identified.
A grand jury indicted the defendants in August 2012, but the
indictment was not unsealed until Friday.
According to the charges, the group used Zeus malware to
capture passwords and account numbers and then used that
information to log into online banking accounts to steal
millions of dollars.
The Zeus virus is a piece of malicious software that has
been widely used to steal credit card information and other
The defendants were able to use the malware to beat
two-factor identification systems, including SecurID, a product
of the RSA unit of EMC Corp, prosecutors said.
The indictment was unsealed on Friday ahead of an
arraignment of the two defendants who were extradited from the
UK, Yuriy Konovalenko, 31, and Yevhen Kulibaba, 36, the Justice
Prosecutors say the defendants used U.S. residents as "money
mules," receiving funds transferred over the Automated Clearing
House network or via other interstate wire systems from victims'
bank accounts into the mules' own bank accounts. These people
then allegedly withdrew some of those funds and wired the money
overseas to conspirators.
A lawyer for Konovalenko was not immediately available for
comment. A lawyer for Kulibaba could not be immediately located
The Justice Department said the FBI's Omaha Cyber Task Force
investigated the case, and was assisted by law enforcement
agencies in the UK, the Netherlaands and Ukraine.
The charges come as the U.S. government and hundreds of
business are dealing with the "Heartbleed" bug uncovered this
week, which may have left hundreds of thousands of websites open
to data theft.
The Department of Homeland Security on Friday also warned of
hackers attempting to exploit the bug in targeted attacks.
(Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Leslie Adler)