A U.S. federal court in New York sentenced on Friday Russian national Nikolay Garifulin to two years in prison for his involvement in a global bank fraud scheme to steal over $3 million from dozens of U.S. accounts.
In addition to his prison term, Garifulin, 23, of Volgograd, Russia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero to three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to forfeit $100,000 and to pay over $192,000 in restitution.
Garifulin was among 27 Russians arrested in the United States in October 2010 on charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, money laundering and passport fraud. Most of his co-conspirators have already been sentenced to various prison terms.
According to court documents, cyber attacks to steal money from the bank accounts of small and mid-sized businesses throughout the United States originated in Eastern Europe. The attacks included the use of malware known as Zeus Trojan and targeted account holders at the Bank of America, TD Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Wachovia and HSBC Bank.
Garifulin was a leader of a “money mule organization” responsible for retrieving the proceeds of the malware attacks and transporting or transferring the stolen money overseas. He also arranged for fake passports to be transferred to “mules” recruited among individuals who had entered the United States on student visas from Eastern Europe.
“The high-tech scheme that was perpetrated by Nikolay Garifulin and his co-conspirators is an example of the financial harm that can be wrought by cyber thieves,” Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said after the sentencing.
“As today’s sentence and our record in this case make clear, we will track down these criminals and bring them to justice,” he said.