The United States Department of Treasury announced sanctions against two Russian nationals for their involvement in phishing campaigns in the year 2017 and 2018. According to the official press release, the accused reportedly targeted customers of two US-based and one foreign-based cryptocurrency exchanges.
The two individuals sanctioned namely, Danil Potekhin and Dmitrii Karasavidi are being designated pursuant to the Executive Order targetting malicious cyber activities. This also included those related to the significant misappropriation of funds or personal identifiers for private financial gain read the press release.
Several American citizens as well as businesses were also among the victims of the fraudulent actors that resulted in a loss of nearly $16.8 million, combined.
Secretary of the Treasury, Steven T. Mnuchin
“The individuals who administered this scheme defrauded American citizens, businesses, and others by deceiving them and stealing virtual currency from their accounts. The Treasury Department will continue to use our authorities to target cyber-criminals and remains committed to the safe and secure use of emerging technologies in the financial sector.”
Potekhin had created a number of fraudulent web domains that closely resembled the genuine ones of cryptocurrency exchanges to lure in and dupe unsuspecting users thinking they are on a legitimate platform. Following this, Potekhin and his co-conspirators stole the users’ login credentials thereby gaining access to their accounts.
They press release also stated that the attackers used various mechanisms to exfiltrate the stolen funds and subsequently cashing out for a higher price this pulling a quick profit.
Ultimately, the stolen funds were traced to Karasavidi’s account, following which millions of dollars in cryptocurrency and U.S. dollars were seized in a forfeiture action by the United States Secret Service. The sanctions were imposed in a coordinated action with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC]