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Eight Charged in Hacking Theft From Dozen Financial Firms

Eight people were charged with hacking customer accounts at more than a dozen financial institutions, including Citigroup Inc. (C) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), and trying to steal at least $15 million.

The ring was run by Oleksiy Sharapka, 33, of Kiev, Ukraine, with help from Leonid Yanovitsky, 38, also of Kiev, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said today in a statement. They remain at large, although U.S. authorities arrested four others, Fishman said. Sharapka finished an 8 1/2-year U.S. prison term last year.

“Cybercriminals penetrated some of our most trusted financial institutions as part of a global scheme that stole money and identities,” Fishman said in a statement. They used stolen identities to “‘cash out’ hacked accounts in a series of internationally coordinated modern-day bank robberies.”

The scheme involved hacking into the networks of companies including Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase and moving money from the accounts of customers to accounts controlled by crews of “cashers,” authorities said. They then made withdrawals from automated teller machines and fraudulent purchases in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Georgia and elsewhere, Fishman said.

Sharapka and Yanovitsky oversaw Oleg Pidtergerya, 49, of Brooklyn, New York; Robert Dubuc, 40, of Malden, Massachusetts; and Andrey Yarmolitskiy, 41, of Atlanta, who managed “cash out crews” in their respective cities, according to the U.S. Secret Service, which investigated the case with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Airport Arrest

Pidtergerya, Dubuc and Ilya Ostapyuk, 31, of Brooklyn, were arrested today, and Yarmolitskiy was arrested yesterday at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he arrived on an international flight, according to Fishman.

Pidtergerya was ordered detained today after appearing in federal court in Newark, New Jersey. Ostapyuk was released on a $200,000 bond. Yarmolitskiy hasn’t appeared in court yet. Dubuc was expected to appear today in federal court in Boston.

The defendants are charged with three conspiracies: to commit wire fraud; to commit money laundering; and to commit identity theft. They face 20 years in prison on the most serious charge.

The case is U.S. v. Sharapka, 13-mj-06089, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

To contact the reporter on this story: David Voreacos in Newark, New Jersey, at o dvoreacos@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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