According to authorities, Murmylyuk was part of a gang who, beginning in late 2010, gained access to online trading accounts at Scottrade, e*Trade, Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and other brokerage firms and conducted a series of sham trades. Once the hackers controlled the accounts, they used stolen identities to open additional accounts at other brokerage houses, and then initiated "unprofitable and illogical securities trades" that benefited the attackers. They also changed the phone numbers and email addresses on file to prevent victims from being notified of the illegal trades.
"Hackers continue to find new and advanced ways to steal from the financial sector," said First Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Gilmore Childers in a prepared statement. "Through the illusion of legitimacy, these alleged hackers controlled both sides of securities transactions to game the market and drain their victims' accounts. Those who use their computer skills for fraud underestimate the combined resolve of law enforcement and the financial services industry to detect and stop these crimes."
In one version of the scam, the thieves would use the victims' accounts to sell options contracts to the profit accounts, then to purchase the same contracts back minutes later for up to nine times the price. In another scam, they used the profit accounts to offer short sales of securities at prices well above market price and force the victim accounts to make irrational purchases, authorities said.
According to the FBI, Murmylyuk and a conspirator recruited foreign nationals visiting, studying, and living in the United States -- including Russian nationals and Houston residents Anton Mezentsev, Galina Korelina, and Mikhail Shatov -- to open bank accounts into which illegal proceeds could be deposited. Murmylyuk and the conspirator then transferred the proceeds of the sham trades to profit accounts where the stolen money could be withdrawn, police said. Shatov, Mezentsev, and Korelina were convicted previously and sentenced to 14 months, 27 months, and 14 months, respectively.
If convicted, Murmylyuk faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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