By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - Federal prosecutors on Monday announced the indictment of three men they accuse of being members of an international cybercrime ring that tried to steal at least $15 million by hacking into U.S. customer accounts at 14 financial institutions and the Department of Defense's payroll service.
Oleksiy Sharapka, 33, and Leonid Yanovitsky, 39, both of Kiev, Ukraine; and Richard Gundersen, 47, of Brooklyn, New York, were each indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit access device fraud and identity theft, and aggravated identity theft.
The men were among eight people charged, according to U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in New Jersey, who announced the indictments.
Fishman said compromised accounts belonged to customers of Aon Hewitt, Automatic Data Processing Inc, Citibank NA, eBay Inc's PayPal, Electronic Payments Inc, E*Trade, Fundtech Holdings LLC, iPayment Inc, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, Nordstrom Bank, TD Ameritrade, TIAA-CREF, USAA, Veracity Payment Solutions Inc, and the Defense Department's finance and accounting service.
Prosecutors accused the men of gaining unauthorized access to networks, diverting customer funds to bank accounts and pre-paid debit cards, employing "cashers" to make ATM withdrawals and fraudulent purchases in Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and elsewhere.
These conspirators were also accused of using stolen identities to file false tax returns seeking refunds with the Internal Revenue Service.
The scheme ran from around March 2012, when Sharapka was deported after serving nearly 7-1/2 years in federal prison in Massachusetts, to around June 2013, according to court records.
Prosecutors said Sharapka ran the conspiracy with help from Yanovitsky, and Gundersen helped move fraud proceeds. Each faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud conspiracy count.
The Ukrainian defendants remain at large, while Gundersen was expected to answer the charge in court at a later date. Gundersen's lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Charges against one of the other defendants, Ilya Ostapyuk of Brooklyn, were dismissed in September, court records show. The other four defendants either pleaded guilty or still face charges, a spokesman for Fishman said.
The case is U.S. v. Sharapka et al, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 13-mj-06089.
(Corrects fourth paragraph to clarify that customer accounts of 15 firms were allegedly hacked, not 15 computer networks. Adds E*Trade to companies listed in fourth paragraph) (Editing by Grant McCool) (firstname.lastname@example.org)(646)(223-6317)(Reuters Messaging: email@example.com) nL2N0ME15B