Two individuals involved with laundering funds from U.S. victims of cybercrime pleaded guilty to their role in a transnational organization that relied in part on hacking to defraud victims out of millions of dollars, the Justice Department announced Friday.
The defendants, Arturs Zaharevics and Aleksejs Trofimovics, are just two of 20 indiviuals charged by the U.S. government with involvement with QQAAZZ, a European-based crime group that provided cash and cryptocurrency laundering for cybercriminals. U.S. and European authorities launched a major crackdown on the group last fall, resulting in indictments against 14 members of the criminal organization. QQAAZZ allegedly laundered or attempted to launder tens of millions of dollars’ worth of funds stolen from cybercrime victims across 16 countries.
Trofimovics opened thirteen corporate bank accounts in Portugal under a shell company to help move money for cybercriminals. Zaharevics, who was extradited from the United Kingdom in April, also set up foreign bank accounts under a false name and shell company. Accounts operated by both defendents recieved or intended to recieve money stolen from U.S. victims.
“These individuals operated a money laundering scheme working in concert with cyber criminals who stole from unsuspecting victims in the United States and around the globe,” FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall said in a statement. “Their guilty pleas are proof no one can hide behind a computer or an international border.
The FBI arrested Maksim Boiko, an alleged operative of the group and part0time rapper who often bragged about money on his social media accounts, in 2020. Boiko, who was caught carrying $20,000 in cash through the Miami airport, pleaded guilty to his role in the effort in December.
The prosecutions come amid growing attention from the U.S. government on the financial systems used by cybercriminals to exchange funds, including cryptocurrency exchanges.