April 22, 2024

The head of counterintelligence for a division of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) was sentenced last week to nine years in a penal colony for accepting a USD $1.7 million bribe to ignore the activities of a prolific Russian cybercrime group that hacked thousands of e-commerce websites. The protection scheme was exposed in 2022 when Russian authorities arrested six members of the group, which sold millions of stolen payment cards at flashy online shops like Trump’s Dumps.

A now-defunct carding shop that sold stolen credit cards and invoked 45’s likeness and name.

As reported by The Record, a Russian court last week sentenced former FSB officer Grigory Tsaregorodtsev for taking a $1.7 million bribe from a cybercriminal group that was seeking a “roof,” a well-placed, corrupt law enforcement official who could be counted on to both disregard their illegal hacking activities and run interference with authorities in the event of their arrest.

Tsaregorodtsev was head of the counterintelligence department for a division of the FSB based in Perm, Russia. In February 2022, Russian authorities arrested six men in the Perm region accused of selling stolen payment card data. They also seized multiple carding shops run by the gang, including Ferum Shop, Sky-Fraud, and Trump’s Dumps, a popular fraud store that invoked the 45th president’s likeness and promised to “make credit card fraud great again.”

All of the domains seized in that raid were registered by an IT consulting company in Perm called Get-net LLC, which was owned in part by Artem Zaitsev — one of the six men arrested. Zaitsev reportedly was a well-known programmer whose company supplied services and leasing to the local FSB field office.

The message for Trump’s Dumps users left behind by Russian authorities that seized the domain in 2022.

Russian news sites report that Internal Affairs officials with the FSB grew suspicious when Tsaregorodtsev became a little too interested in the case following the hacking group’s arrests. The former FSB agent had reportedly assured the hackers he could have their case transferred and that they would soon be free.

But when that promised freedom didn’t materialize, four the of the defendants pulled the walls down on the scheme and brought down their own roof. The FSB arrested Tsaregorodtsev, and seized $154,000 in cash, 100 gold bars, real estate and expensive cars.

At Tsaregorodtsev’s trial, his lawyers argued that their client wasn’t guilty of bribery per se, but that he did admit to fraud because he was ultimately unable to fully perform the services for which he’d been hired.

The Russian news outlet Kommersant reports that all four of those who cooperated were released with probation or correctional labor. Zaitsev received a sentence of 3.5 years in prison, and defendant Alexander Kovalev got four years.

In 2017, KrebsOnSecurity profiled Trump’s Dumps, and found the contact address listed on the site was tied to an email address used to register more than a dozen domains that were made to look like legitimate Javascript calls many e-commerce sites routinely make to process transactions — such as “js-link[dot]su,” “js-stat[dot]su,” and “js-mod[dot]su.”

Searching on those malicious domains revealed a 2016 report from RiskIQ, which shows the domains featured prominently in a series of hacking campaigns against e-commerce websites. According to RiskIQ, the attacks targeted online stores running outdated and unpatched versions of shopping cart software from Magento, Powerfront and OpenCart.

Those shopping cart flaws allowed the crooks to install “web skimmers,” malicious Javascript used to steal credit card details and other information from payment forms on the checkout pages of vulnerable e-commerce sites. The stolen customer payment card details were then sold on sites like Trump’s Dumps and Sky-Fraud.

15 thoughts on “Russian FSB Counterintelligence Chief Gets 9 Years in Cybercrime Bribery Scheme

  1. RWKOS

    Probably prosecuted because he didn’t a) pay tribute to, or b) arrange for a cut to go to Vlad, or c) group didn’t cover tracks well and were causing headaches, or d) some combo of a to c.

    1. nemo

      Hm. Another theory: because they used the image and name of a Friend Of Putin for their crimes…

      1. J A

        For some reason Russian cybercriminals name their services after famous Americans. There’s also BidenCash.

        1. nemo

          Yes, they do. Don’t forget BriansClub! 🙂

          But the point was, those usually don’t get persecuted in Russia.

  2. Bluz

    “ At Tsaregorodtsev’s trial, his lawyers argued that their client wasn’t guilty of bribery per se, but that he did admit to fraud because he was ultimately unable to fully perform the services for which he’d been hired.”
    WTF? very creative defense LOL

  3. John

    So the Russian Federation actually goes after cybercriminals inside its territory? I thought they were exempt provided they kept their crimes outside of the country.

  4. Sam on wheels

    What a CORRUPT system, oh my goodness! The government employee gets 9 years but the crooks and scum who ruined millions of lives get 1/3 of his sentence just for admitting that they convinced him to take a bribe … disgusting Now every criminal in Russia knows that if they have a bribe on the payroll they can get a reduced sentence

    1. Sarah Hirhyel Jatau

      I was a little bit confused as to why Tsaregorodtsev got the longest jail term , but i believe to whom much is given much is expected. this was to serve as a deterrent to those in the seat of power. a way to let them know that if this goes south you have more to lose than those directly involved.

  5. Robert Campbell

    All 5 of the comments are just what the Dr. ordered. I find it Comical that not one of these so called Cyber experts acknowledged the obvious. Name a single G7 Intelligence Agency that has convinced a senior officer let alone the Chief of said Agency. The mess we are in will never be fixed because of people like them.

  6. L Jean Camp

    ” all four of those who cooperated were released with probation or correctional labor. ”
    I do not understand “released with correctional labor”.
    I do not associate correctional labor in Russia with being released. Is that community service?

    Also, why is American law enforcement so cheap? His equivalent in the FBI sold out for a quarter of a million.
    for much more than one case

  7. Blanche DuBois

    Have we got a basketball player to trade for this Tsaregorodtsev?

  8. Alwatssame

    Devil eats devil lower rank is victim of higher ranks there is no honour among thiefes anymore.
    It’s all dirty and Everybody snich to save themselfes.
    But winners are top highest ranks in business those who take the most profit the banks money transaction services and wall street financial top guys little guys and everybody else whos in involved Will go prison and will get nothing all the money will be taken.
    That’s called devil system where lower ranks always will be just used for higher ranks benefits while the lower ranks in prison the top elite ranks enjoy the Champagne and nice life dining and vip vacations the higher ranks don’t do directly never anything they just use lower ranks mules and proxies and it’s easy nowdays due the Crisis and political situation unemployment it’s easy to get lower educated and lower ranked people in the trap and using them.
    It’s always like this the top evil guys who really benefit of all this things Will just enjoy the life and Will keep looking for new victims to use them and send them prison after.
    The way every top criminal Will end up is just the same way the top ranks Will just use them.

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