The rising popularity of social media has enabled the world to see the different types of personalities and how they live their lives, But there was one feature of applications like Instagram that no one really talks about: Helping the police catch criminals.
As March drew to a close, a Russian national identified by the FBI as a “significant cyber-criminal” was charged with money laundering in Pittsburgh. Evidence against Maksim Boiko was collected when the police searched through his Instagram, which uncovered damming evidence against him.
According to the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, officials were convinced that Boiko was leading a double life from his small-time rapper self, as evidenced by his lavish lifestyle photos on Instagram. The court filings also added that the Russian had used infamous crypto exchange, BTC-e to conduct his schemes.
The District Court of Pennsylvania further linked Boiko with transnational organized crime organization QQAAZZ. Reports about Russian syndicates infiltrating other regions have been doing the rounds repeatedly with some links supposedly connected with the Kremlin. In Boiko’s case, his flamboyant lifestyle was his biggest downfall. The Russian citizen first popped on the police radar when he entered the US mainland with $20,000 in fiat currency.
According to official court documents, Boiko was in violation of Title 18 of the United States Code. The documents added:
“Maksim Boiko aka Maxim Boyko aka gangass is a 29-year-old Russian National who entered the United States via Miami, Florida with his wife on January 19, 2020. Because he entered the country with $20,000 in US currency, Boikon was interviewed by the US Customs and Border Protection. In the interview, Boiko stated that his income came from investments in Bitcoin and rental properties in Russia.”
What the police confirmed about Boiko’s shady dealings were his activities in the cryptocurrency world. The Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] revealed that Boiko had received almost $387,964 in his BTC-e account. The accused also withdrew about 136 Bitcoin from his account. Court filings do not mention that Boiko was a small-time rapper, but that piece of information was highly valuable for the authorities.
Boiko used the rap name ‘Plinofficial’ to create his account on BTC-e, which made it easier for the police to locate his Instagram of the same name. For a rapper that had only 3365 subscribers on YouTube, Boiko was found to have a penchant for uploading photos with large wads of cash. This behavior was inconsistent with the practices of legitimate business operations and was consistent with Boiko’s money-laundering accusations.
To hide his true identity, Boiko also used the pseudonym ‘Gangass’. He made it a point to use the scrambler “exploit.im” to conceal communications with his cybercriminal clientele. A review of FBI holdings further provided incriminating evidence against Boiko. Several Jabber chats were discovered which involved criminal money laundering committed by the holder of firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boiko’s connection with BTC-e was one of the biggest red flags. When the now-defunct exchange was shut down in 2017, reports came out in the open that almost $500 million had been siphoned by the FSB, Russia’s intelligence agency.