A decorated Ukrainian general was arrested last week in Romania along with two other men suspected of being part of an organized cybercrime gang that laundered at least $1.4 million stolen from U.S. and Italian firms.
Apprehended in Iasi, Romania last week were Matei Vitalie, 37, of Moldova; Konstantin Ossipov, a 42-year-old Israeli citizen; and 54-year-old Valeriu Gaichuk, a Ukrainian general who, according to his Facebook page, once studied at Florida International University in Miami.
Romanian prosecutors allege that the men created fake companies and business contracts to help to launder funds that were stolen from at least two firms, including $952,800 from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, an organization based in Minneapolis. Roy Snell, the society’s chief executive, declined to comment for this story.
Romanian authorities, working with the FBI and Italian special forces, were tipped off by banks in Italy, which denied a request allegedly by the accused to transfer $400,000 from a victim company there to a fictitious firm. According to documents released by prosecutors, the men were caught red handed on Dec. 9 trying to withdrawn nearly $1 million stolen from the American company.
A U.S. law enforcement investigator familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity said keystroke logging Trojans were used to steal the online banking credentials of the victim organizations, and that the case is connected to at least one other cyber fraud investigation that is still pending.
The judge overseeing the case approved the prosecutor’s request to have the men detained for at least 29 days pending further investigation, saying that authorities have information that the defendants belong to much larger organized criminal group.