Man sentenced for part in global cybercrime ring

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A Massachusetts man who was part of an international cybercrime ring that the government says hacked into the computers of more than a dozen financial institutions and the U.S. military's payroll service was sentenced Friday to 2½ years in prison.

Lamar Taylor, 38, of Salem, Massachusetts, was also ordered to pay restitution of $338,649. He will be on supervised release for up to three years after his prison term.

Prosecutors said the ring targeted electronic payment systems of leading financial institutions in a bid to steal at least $15 million from U.S. customers and that Taylor was asked by others in the conspiracy to cash out bank accounts and prepaid debit cards opened in other people's names.

Prosecutors said the scheme was led by Oleksiy Sharapka, of Kiev, Ukraine, who remains at large more than a year after charges were released.

They said the conspiracy began around the same time Sharapka was deported from the U.S. in 2012 after serving time in federal prison in Massachusetts.

Leonid Yanovitsky, also of Kiev, also remains at large, according to Matthew Reilly, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman in New Jersey.

Defendants Oleg Pidtergerya, 50, and Robert Dubuc, 41, have pleaded guilty and are scheduled to be sentenced next week.

The government said financial institutions whose computer networks were hacked included Aon Hewitt, Automated Data Processing Inc., Citibank, E-Trade, Electronic Payments Inc., Fundtech Holdings LLC, iPayment Inc., JPMorgan Chase Bank, Nordstrom Bank, PayPal, TD Ameritrade, TIAA-CREF, USAA, Veracity Payment Solutions Inc. and the payroll arm of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Once inside the computer networks, the conspirators sought to divert money from customer accounts to prepaid debit cards that they controlled, prosecutors said. As part of the scheme, cards were obtained in the names of people whose identities had been stolen.

Stolen identities were also used to file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS seeking refunds.

Crews of individuals known as "cashers" were employed in New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, Illinois and elsewhere to withdraw the stolen funds. The government said the majority of the proceeds were distributed to managers, including to leaders of the conspiracy overseas.