Crime-Ring Orchestrators Plead Guilty to Fraud, Face Four Years

A pair of Ukrainian Nationals is each facing a four year, eight month sentence after pleading guilty at London’s Croydon Crown Court on October 31 to charges of conspiracy to defraud.

A pair of Ukrainian Nationals is each facing a four year, eight month sentence after pleading guilty at London’s Croydon Crown Court on October 31 to charges of conspiracy to defraud.

According to a London Metropolitan Police report, the 29 year-old Yuriy Konovalenko (also known as Pavel Klikov) and 33 year-old Yaven Kulibaba were the ring masterminds behind an online scam that drained some £3 million ($4.8 million) from the bank accounts of their victims. The duo, along with 20 others, were apprehended on September 29 from various London-area addresses.

These arrests are part of a Met Police e-Crime unit (PCeU) investigation dubbed, Operation Lath. The operation targeted a sophisticated and well-organized online crime-ring that had compromised the bank accounts of hundreds of individuals in the UK and beyond. Operation Lath investigated the activities of involved parties between September of 2009 and March of 2010, 13 of whom have been jailed.

According to the Met, the crimes were carried out through the use of banking trojans, which infected the personal computers of online banking customers. The trojans, presumably a keyloggers of some sort, snared the usernames, passwords, and account numbers of its victims. This information was then used to access those accounts and transfer funds to receiving accounts controlled by the group.

The Met claims that Kulibaba, generally working out of Ukraine, was the brains of the operation and that Konovalenko was his right-hand man, organizing the operation from within the UK.

During the investigation, the PCeU worked in collaboration with the Crown Prosecution Service, the FBI, and the US Department of Justice.

“These defendants were part of an organized network of computer criminals operating a state-of-the art international online banking fraud, through which they stole many millions of pounds from individuals and businesses in the UK and United States,” said Detective Inspector Colin Wetherill of the PCeU. “The investigation involved unprecedented levels of cooperation between the Metropolitan Police, the UK banks, the FBI and other UK and international law enforcement agencies. We are working hard to reduce the harm caused by these activities, to put fear into the minds of those contemplating these conspiracies and to bring such offenders to justice.”

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