Russians extradited on $48M cyber fraud charges

Three Russian men have been extradited to the US from Morocco, Germany, and Romania to face charges of using stolen personally identifying information (PII) to steal $48 million.

Nikolaj Sofinskij, 42, previously residing in Romania, was the last of the trio to be brought before a federal court in New York, where he was formally detained on November 7th.

His alleged accomplices, Albertovich Nurullin, 32, and Aleksandr Popan, 40, were similarly arraigned after being brought from Morocco and Germany on September 15th and October 16th respectively.

The three men are accused of running a “stuffer” shipping scheme between 2013 and 2018, in which they used stolen PII such as credit card details to fraudulently buy luxury goods online.

The retailers were hoodwinked into complying with the illicit purchases, sending articles to addresses in the US.

However, the suspects then allegedly rerouted the items to destinations in Russia and other East European and Kremlin-allied nations for resale.

The alleged scammers used websites they called “admin panels” to coordinate accomplice “stuffers” to use victims’ social security, credit and debit card numbers to buy smartphones, computers, designer clothing, and handbags from online retailers. This allegedly caused more than $48 million of losses in total.

“Participants divided profits frequently through a virtual currency exchange based in Russia, and they reinvested proceeds into the ongoing schemes, including by buying prepaid mailing labels to facilitate shipments to Russia and elsewhere,” said the US Department of Justice (DoJ) announcing the latest extradition.

If found guilty, the trio potentially face decades behind bars in a US federal prison.

US attorney general Breon Peace welcomed the extraditions, thanking Interpol and authorities in Morocco, Germany, and Romania for their cooperation.

He added: “This case shows that if criminals organize to target US victims in their international crimes, our office will unite with the international community to catch and bring them to justice.”

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