The U.S. Treasury Department has unveiled sanctions against two Russian nationals whom it alleges stole close to $17 million in cryptocurrencies in a sophisticated phishing campaign. In a separate indictment, the Department of Justice charged the two with aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and computer fraud. Danil Potekhin, 25, and Dmitrii Karasavidi, 35, allegedly engaged in a wide range of crimes connected with a conspiracy to defraud three crypto exchanges and their users, according to the DoJ indictment.
The defendant is suspected of imitating crypto exchanges.
The indictment filed in February was unsealed at the Northern District of California this week. In July 2017, Potekhin was suspected of creating and controlling at least 13 fake domains imitating a renowned U.S. crypto exchange. He reportedly induced more than 150 users of the unnamed crypto exchange to input their login credentials with other alleged co-conspirators. Having acquired the credentials, they allegedly accessed the victims’ accounts and stole their digital currencies. Along with the theft, the DoJ further claimed that the defendants engaged in digital currency market manipulation. The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, David Anderson, revealed that the two face a maximum penalty of 59 years if found guilty.
Crypto scams increase amid the ongoing pandemic.
Scams related to cryptocurrency have significantly increased this year amid the ongoing global pandemic. Several countries reported a higher number of scams related to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Authorities in many countries issued warnings about the rise in crypto scams. Crypto regulations in most countries are still in a grey area as scammers continue to fraud people of their money.
The defendants took control of three victims’ accounts on the same platform and used over $5 million in stolen funds to purchase GAS. This created an illusion of demand and drove up the price. They then quickly converted the GAS to BTC and cashed out, causing the price to plummet.