Two brothers suspected of being the masterminds of a series of major cyberheists have been arrested in Fresno, California. The two young men have been charged by the FBI for targeting commercial banks and brokerages where they spirited away millions of dollars.
Gheorghe Baltaga and Adrian Baltaga who hail from Moldova and aged 26 and 25 respectively were arrested on the 29th of October. According to documents revealed by the U.S District Court for the Northern District of California, the two brothers conspired to steal from bank clients. Their plan was to illegally get access to customers’ login information to Fidelity Investments brokerage firm.
They then planned to set up rogue automated clearing house (ACH) links which connected their targeted customers’ accounts and their prepaid debit card accounts which they had already taken control of.
After having taken control of the customers’ accounts, the two brothers then used the compromised debit cards to buy money orders from the U.S Postal Services and MoneyGram. They then deposited these money orders into different accounts which they then cashed through ATMs.
The Baltaga brothers’ indictments don’t pour a lot of light as to the extent of the supposed cyber crimes committed by these men. However, investigators believe that the two men were involved deeply in a number of major cyberheists. They believe that the Baltaga brothers were involved in the 2012 Maryland title company cyberheist where $1.7M was stolen. The lawyer of the brothers was, however, non-committal to comment on any of the charges.
Cybercriminals are using sophisticated technique to steal and then swivel the funds out of the country. In 2012, criminals were targeting people to train them on how to become mules. According to one mule, she was supposed to ‘work-from-home’ and help the cyber crooks set up the sophisticated network. At one point, the mule admitted to having received a message from the criminals notifying her to expect $10,000 in her account. She was supposed to immediately wire the funds to different accounts in Ukraine and Russia. For this service, she was to nip 8% commission.
According to the recruited mule, she had landed a job with an Australian software company. Her job was to aid the company in debt collection from the company’s international clients. After searching the name of the client from whom the employer was supposed to receive payment from, it turned out that it was a title firm based in Washington, D.C address. Due to fear of backlash from competition, the firm requested not to be named.