Bulgarian National Admits Role In Largest Identity Theft Ring Of Its Time
NEWARK, N.J. - A Bulgarian national today admitted his participation in the Shadowcrew forum, an online marketplace for hacking and identity theft that was the largest of its kind when dismantled by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Secret Service in 2004, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Aleksi Kolarov, 31, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to Count One of the indictment, which charges him with conspiracy to commit both identity theft and access device fraud.
“Aleksi Kolorov has now admitted his role in the most notorious online cybercrime marketplace of its time, selling the means to steal money and identities to other criminals,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “His efforts to hide his illegal activity behind computers and foreign borders did not deter us. It is vital that law enforcement work internationally to bring cybercriminals to justice, no matter how long it takes.”
Kolarov evaded capture until June 14, 2011, when Paraguayan law enforcement authorities arrested him at a hotel in Asunción, Paraguay. He was found in possession of hundreds of thousands of dollars in various currencies, counterfeit payment cards and electronic implements to re-encode cards.
“The arrest and extradition of Aleksi Kolarov to the United States demonstrates the steadfast commitment of the Secret Service to protect our nation’s financial infrastructure from unlawful acts committed by cyber-criminals on our homeland,” Special Agent in Charge James Mottola of the U.S. Secret Service, Newark Field Office, said. “The successful apprehension of suspects is due to the efforts our special agents and participating members of the electronic crimes task forces which include federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, private industry and academia.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Shadowcrew.com was an illegal online marketplace that trafficked in at least 1.5 million stolen credit and bank card numbers and caused more than $4 million in losses to the institutions issuing the cards.
Kolarov, along with the other 18 individuals charged in the indictment, participated in the international conspiracy to operate the Shadowcrew site. As part of the organization, Kolarov served as a vendor, using the site to sell illicit merchandise and services to other members. At one time, Shadowcrew.com had approximately 4,000 members dedicated to facilitating malicious computer hacking and the dissemination of stolen credit card, debit card and bank account numbers and counterfeit identification documents, such as drivers’ licenses, passports and Social Security cards. The conspiracy to commit this activity, often referred to as “carding,” facilitated the use of account numbers and counterfeit identity documents to steal identities and defraud banks and retailers.
Of the 19 international participants charged in the indictment, only three remain at large.
The count to which Kolarov pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross amount of pecuniary gain or loss resulting from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for May 28, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Mottola, with the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Office of International Affairs in the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division for its role in the case and the U.S. Marshals Service for facilitating the extradition. U.S. Attorney Fishman also praised the Paraguayan authorities for their vital role.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel V. Shapiro of the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Section of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: Nicholas Wooldridge Esq., New York