Want $3 Million? Catch Evgeniy Bogachev
The FBI Office in Pittsburgh has put out the largest bounty in history – three million bucks – for information which results in the arrest or conviction of Russian hacker Evgeniy Bogachev, who is alleged to be responsible for the largest-scale financial hack ever, GameOver Zeus.
Back in June, cyber crime units around the world co-operated in Operation Tovar to shut down the servers controlling a botnet that had, by that time, netted the cybercriminal gang Bogachev was involved with millions of dollars. GameOver Zeus worked by stealing online banking credentials and passing them to the gang. Typical of malware – in this case not just the annoying kind – the software infected Windows machines specifically. The Department of Homeland Security created a website to help people deal with the problem, which first surfaced several years ago. According to the site:
GOZ, which is often propagated through spam and phishing messages, is primarily used by cyber criminals to harvest banking information, such as login credentials, from a victim’s computer.  Infected systems can also be used to engage in other malicious activities, such as sending spam or participating in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
The botnet – or network of infected computers under control of the attackers – also, in many cases, installed Cryptowall, the ransom software that would revoke a user’s access and then reinstate it for a fee paid in bitcoin. Hacked recently reported about the same “ransomware” successfully conquering several US police departments, specifically Chicago.
Three million dollars is said to be the highest reward ever offered in a cybercrime case. Presumably this is because of the vast scope of infection and its success rate. Bogachev was almost certainly not the only bad actor here, and we may see other rewards pop up moving forward. In August, 2012, a Federal Grand Jury in Nebraska indicted him under two of his usernames, “lucky12345” and “slavik.” We can assume the FBI waited to issue this reward until they were sure of the man’s real identity.
By contrast, another Russian hacker, Alexsey Belan, has a price of only $100,000 on his head. The 27-year-old broke US systems directly and is accused of selling the databases.
Bogachev is not the only one the FBI wants, but presumably he’s the only one whose real-life identity has been compromised by them. The other defendants in his case are:
- “Temp Special”
- “Chingiz 911”
- “Mr. KYKYPYKY”
A real irony would be if one of these co-defendants managed to turn in Bogachev without compromising their identity, collected the reward, and used it in furtherance of their next scam.
Russia Not Helping Any
When law enforcement found the servers that were operating the botnet back in June, Russia was conspicuously absent from the list of countries that helped break the operation. Besides America, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Ukraine and the United Kingdom all contributed personnel and information toward ending the operation. It is common knowledge that Russian authorities only care about domestic computer crimes, so the chances of getting a co-operative extradition order on Bogachev or any other wanted Russian hacker are slim.
If you have any information and would like to make a small fortune courtesy of Uncle Sam, you can contact your local FBI office and get the ball rolling.
Images from Shutterstock.