(Adds details of case in second paragraph.)
Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- A Russian national charged by U.S. authorities with orchestrating a cyber-fraud scheme from Europe pleaded guilty to illegally gaining computer access to bank accounts via websites claiming to offer goods and merchandise.
Vladimir Zdorovenin pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan on Feb. 17 to a count of conspiracy and a count of wire fraud, records show. Federal prosecutors alleged that a scheme from 2004 to 2005 involving Zdorovenin, his son and others preyed on U.S. consumers who believed the unauthorized charges were for legitimate goods.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein, after accepting Zdorovenin’s plea, ordered that he remain in custody. He was arrested in Zurich last March before being extradited to New York. His son, Kirill, remains at large, prosecutors said.
Sabrina Shroff, a lawyer for Vladimir Zdorovenin, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message today seeking comment about the guilty plea.
Prosecutors alleged in an indictment that the Zdorovenins and unidentified accomplices controlled U.S.-registered companies Sofeco LLC, Pintado LLC and Tallit LL that appeared to be legitimate Internet merchants.
The defendants both took unauthorized charges on customers’ credit cards, prosecutors said. They also got credit card numbers by either buying them from unidentified people who had obtained them illegally or by using computer programs that were surreptitiously installed on victims’ computers, the U.S. alleged.
Financial Services Accounts
The Zdorovenins engaged in a scheme from June 2004 to February 2005 to access financial services accounts of U.S. victims and attempted to transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars into bank accounts they controlled at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and a company identified in the indictment as Asia Europe America’s Bank, prosecutors said.
The defendants also maintained a financial services account at Ameritrade Inc. and bought and sold securities in publicly traded companies through a business called Rim Investment Management Ltd., prosecutors said.
The Zdorovenins were accused of committing securities fraud by purchasing and selling thousands of shares of securities of companies, including Terayon Communications Systems Inc. and Internet Capital Group Inc., by trading in the accounts of U.S. victims, prosecutors said.
The Zdorovenins bought and sold securities in the same companies in their Rim account at Ameritrade, manipulating and earning profits they wouldn’t otherwise have made, the U.S. said.
The indictment alleges that in July 2004 both Zdorovenins participated in meetings with unidentified co-conspirators in Cyprus. Those co-conspirators transferred almost $300,000 from a financial services account of a person in the U.S. to a bank account controlled by Vladimir and Kirill Zdorovenin, the government said.
The case is U.S. v. Zdorovenin, 07-cr-00440, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
--Editors: Peter Blumberg, Glenn Holdcraft
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