Four International Hacking Suspects Charged with Racketeering
WASHINGTON – A criminal indictment and four arrest warrants were unsealed today charging an American, a Slovenian, a Serbian, and a Spaniard with a racketeering conspiracy to develop and distribute malware through the major computer hacking forum known as Darkode.
U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia, and John Selleck, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
Thomas McCormick, aka fubar, 26, of Washington state, in the United States; Matjaz Skorjanc, aka iserdo aka serdo, 32, of Maribor, Slovenia; Florencio Carro Ruiz, aka NeTK aka Netkairo, 40, of Vizcaya, Spain; and Mentor Leniqi, aka Iceman, 35, of Gurisnica, Slovenia, are each charged with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. The racketeering conspiracy charge includes conspiracy to commit bank, wire, and access device fraud, identity theft, hacking, and extortion. McCormick is also charged with five counts of Aggravated Identity Theft. The indictment was filed under seal on Dec. 4, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. McCormick was arrested on Dec. 10, 2018, at the FBI’s Washington Field Office in Washington, D.C. Skorjanc, Leniqi, and Ruiz remain fugitives.
As alleged in the charging documents, Darkode was a criminal organization centered around an online, password-protected criminal forum where high-level international hackers and other cyber-criminals convened to develop, buy, sell, trade, and share hacking tools, information, and ideas. Before becoming a member of Darkode, prospective members were vetted through a process in which an existing member invited a prospective member to the forum to present the skills or products that he or she could bring to the group. Darkode members allegedly used each other’s skills and products to infect computers and electronic devices of victims around the world with malware and, thereby gain access to, and control over, those devices.
The charges are merely allegations, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The maximum penalty for a racketeering conspiracy to commit bank fraud is 20 years of incarceration. The maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud is 30 years of incarceration. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The investigation into this matter was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office with assistance from Europol and their European Cyber Crime Center (EC3).
Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. Dominguez and Peter V. Roman of the Cyber Crime Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia are prosecuting the case. The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Organized Crime and Gangs Section, and the Office of International Affairs of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division provided significant assistance.