A Romanian fraudster, who was part of a dark web group of hackers and fraudsters who defrauded residents of Ohio, has been sentenced to prison. Tiberiu Danet, the culprit, was handed a 10-year-fedearal prison on January 8, 2019 by Chief U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan. Judge Danet, having already sentenced other members of the dark web hackers and fraudsters group, for their role in the malware scam, stated that, she gave Danet half the prison he gave the others because of his level of cooperation in the investigation.
The 34-year-old Romanian fraudster, and his criminal colleagues, in the dark web group named “Bayrob,” designed and undertook a malware scam which saw the, milk millions of dollars from Ohio residents. The “Bayrob” group, undertook this malware and hacking operation for ten years, whiles operating overseas.
The Romanian fraudster was also ordered to pay over $529,000 in restitution by Judge Gaughan, wo stated that, Danet’s cooperation only gained him leniency and nothing else. “You realize how serious this conduct was,” Judge Gaughan added. The Romanian fraudster and his two co-defendants Radu Miclaus and Bogdan Nicolescu were being held in jails in Ohio since their arrest in Bucharest in September 2016.
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The tree men were identified as key members of the dark web group ‘Bayrob’, which was responsible for infecting over 400,000 computers located in the United States. The dark web group were involved in many illegal activities such as fraudulent online car sales, phishing attacks and stealing personal and private data of victims and then selling it on the dark web.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Nicolescu was the mastermind in the group and operated on the dark web behind the moniker “MasterFraud.” Nicolescu was believed to have carried out many fraudulent actions and elaborated scams using this dark web account. Additional reports from the FBI stated that, the dark web group ‘Bayrob’, was made up of not less than three members and also up to five members at any given time. Each member had a specific set of skill which was used in many illegal activities.
Report from the office of Assistant U.S. Attorney Duncan Brown stated that, Danet, was a vital member of the dark web group because of his database development and management skills. The Romanian fraudster however left the dark web group at one point but returned later as a fraudster and played a major role in “very sophisticated and very consistent and persistent criminal activities,” U.S Attorney Brown stated.
According to prosecutors, ‘Bayrob’ started their criminal operations back in 2007, where they created a malware and spread it through private emails disguised as messages from the IRS, Western Union and Norton Anti-Virus. The dark web group also created a virus which infected many computers in Ohio and gave the, control over their system. The group then organized numerous scams and fraudulent activities which drained their victims off their monies.
One of the scams included posting numerous ads on eBay, that claimed to sell flashy cars. In a case where an interested buyer sends a message to the group in relation to the ad posted, ‘Bayrob’ would then send pictures which contained malicious code in return. Once the interested party clicks on the image, the malicious code takes over the system and allows the dark web group to take control.
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Once the group gets inside the computer of their victim, they then redirect users to a fake eBay page. In any case where a buyer wires money, it went straight into the bank accounts of the ‘smurfers’ involved in the elaborated scheme, and then transferred into accounts in Europe before finally getting into accounts controlled by ‘Bayrob’. Buyers therefore never gets their cars and neither their money back. According to the FBI, some victims lost over tens of thousands of dollars’ whiles estimating that the fraudulent schemes resulted in over $4.5 million in criminal proceeds.
Danet and his fellow criminals, defrauded over 50 people in Northeast Ohio alone. The FBI caught onto the groups dark web dealings after a Lake County woman claim that, she lost almost $10,000 in 2007 in what she thought was an online car purchase. The group again popped up on now defunct dark web marketplaces AlphaBay and silk road, this time selling data they stole with their malware, whiles still under the radar of the FBI.
The FBI finally had a breakthrough in 2015 when they arrested Danet at the Miami airport. While going through customs, FBI agents secretly seized his mobile device and analyzed the info on it. They uncovered messages between Danet and the other two-co-defendants, chatting about the computer malware they had created.
Miclaus and Nicolescu were found guilty by a jury in April 2019, of 21 charges, including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit service marks and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The duo was sentenced to a combined 38 years in prison in December 2019 by Judge Gaughan. Nicolescu was handed a 20-year federal prison sentence, while Miclaus got 18 years in federal prison. Danet however entered into guilty pleas to eight charges and fully cooperated with prosecutors.
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