• Hacker, 28, broke into network after stealing user credentials
  • First hacker convicted in conspiracy to steal 150,000 releases

A Ukranian hacker pleaded guilty to stealing unpublished news releases that helped a criminal network make $30 million by trading on nonpublic information about corporate earnings.

Vadym Iermolovych, 28, admitted Monday in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, that he worked with two other Ukranian hackers to steal 150,000 releases from computer networks at PR Newswire, Business Wire and Marketwired. He is the fourth person to plead guilty in Newark or Brooklyn, New York, and the first hacker to do so.

Prosecutors said that from February 2010 to November 2014, the hackers broke into computer networks at the three companies and stole draft releases that they shared with others who made stock trades in advance of the public dissemination of the corporate earnings. The hackers periodically moved among servers at the three companies as they were discovered and lost access to the releases.

As part of his plea, Iermolovych said he bought a hacked database of stolen user names and logins for employees at PR Newswire. By using credentials for one employee, he entered the company’s network on Feb. 27, 2013, and proceeded to steal releases, he said. 

Marketwired Releases

Iermolovych also said he advertised on a criminal Web forum that allowed people to gain access to stolen Marketwired releases before they were made public. He made tens of thousands of dollars in payments by granting access to the stolen releases, he said in pleading guilty. 

As part of his plea, he said he worked with two Ukranian hackers who remain at large, Ivan Turchynov and Oleksandr Ieremenko. They were among nine people whose charges were announced in August by federal authorities in Newark and Brooklyn. In court papers, prosecutors said evidence collected includes forensic images of laptops and computers seized by Ukrainian authorities in November 2012 from Turchynov and Ieremenko.

Iermolovych pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with computers and aggravated identity theft. He faces as many as 20 years in prison for the wire fraud conspiracy. 

Court records show that he was first charged by the U.S. Secret Service on Nov. 5, 2014, in a separate case. Authorities said he resold hacked credit and debit card data on 600,000 accounts. He was arrested two days later and appeared three days after that in federal court in Houston, records show. He lived at the time with his mother.

The case is U.S. v. Iermolovych, 14-mj-3237, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

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