SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – The U.S. government is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of an alleged Russian hacker, who investigators say targeted several entities, including Sharon Schools.
Charges against 32-year-old Maksim Yakubets, aka “Aqua,” of Moscow, Russia, were unsealed this week.
Investigators say Yakubets was involved in international computer hacking and bank fraud schemes dating back to May 2009.
Igor Turashev, 38, from Yoshkar-Ola, Russia is also charged. He was indicted for his role in what investigators described as a “Bugat” malware conspiracy.
Federal investigators say their crimes resulted in losses of tens of millions of dollars to victims worldwide.
“For over a decade, Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev led one of the most sophisticated transnational cybercrime syndicates in the world,” said U.S. Attorney Scott Brady. “Deploying ‘Bugat’ malware, also known as ‘Cridex’ and ‘Dridex,’ these cybercriminals targeted individuals and companies in western Pennsylvania and across the globe in one of the most widespread malware campaigns we have ever encountered.”
According to the indictment, the two used malware, which defeated antivirus and other protective measures to protect personal financial and online banking information.
They used a “phishing” email to get an employee of the Sharon City School District to click on a graphic, leading to the installment of malware on the computers at the district, the indictment states.
The indictment says Yakubets and Turashev then tried to transfer $999,000 from the district’s account to a bank in the Kiev, Ukraine.
Attorney Brady says he has family who attended Sharon Schools and he will “go to the ends of the earth” to prosecute anyone who victimizes citizens.
“We know that for every dollar stolen from a school, that is one less dollar for the football team or the girls’ basketball team, one less dollar for teachers’ salaries or for special education,” he said. “For every dollar stolen from an individual, that’s one less dollar for retirement, or for their children’s education or for a family vacation.”
The suspects also victimized other businesses, including two banks, a petroleum company and a metal manufacturer, according to the indictment.
Those with information on Yakubets are urged to contact their local FBI office or nearby American Embassy or Consulate.