Leader Of Global Cybercrime Campaigns Pleads Guilty To Computer Intrusion And Access Device Fraud Conspiracies
Defendant Was the Principal Organizer of Three Cyberattacks That Netted More Than $55 Million in Proceeds for the Members of a Cybercrime Organization
Earlier today, Ercan Findikoglu, a Turkish citizen also known by the online nicknames “Segate,” “Predator,” and “Oreon,” pleaded guilty to computer intrusion conspiracy, access device fraud conspiracy, and effecting transactions with unauthorized access devices for his leadership role in organizing and carrying out three cyberattacks between 2011 and 2013 that inflicted more than $55 million in losses in a matter of hours on the global financial system. Today’s guilty plea took place before United States District Court Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto. At sentencing Findikoglu faces 57.5 years of imprisonment.
The guilty plea was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and David E. Beach, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, New York Field Office.
“By hacking into the computer networks of global financial institutions, the defendant and his co-conspirators were able to wreak havoc with the worldwide financial system by simultaneously withdrawing tens of millions of dollars. Today’s guilty plea by a leader of these massive cyberattacks demonstrates this office’s commitment to pursue those who use the perceived safety and anonymity of their computers to steal from innocent victims,” stated United States Attorney Capers. Mr. Capers praised the extraordinary efforts of the Secret Service in investigating these complex network intrusions.
“The Secret Service is pleased to have participated in this criminal investigation. This case demonstrates by constricting this criminal enterprise, there is no such thing as anonymity in the cyber world. The Secret Service’s New York Electronic Crimes Task Force continues to seek new and innovative ways to combat emerging cyber threats. Our success in this case and other similar investigations is a result of our close work with our network of international law enforcement partners,” said Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Beach.
Findikoglu’s organization used sophisticated intrusion techniques to hack into the systems of credit and debit card processing companies, stole data for prepaid debit cards, and eliminated withdrawal limits for those debit cards. During these cyber-attacks, Findikoglu and other co-conspirators manipulated network administrator privileges at the victim card processing companies and stole the personal identification numbers (PINs) associated with the compromised debit cards. Findikoglu and his co-conspirators then disseminated the stolen card data worldwide to the leaders of cashing crews and directed that their teams use the information to make fraudulent ATM withdrawals on a massive scale across the globe. As a result of the effective elimination of withdrawal limits, these cyber-attacks were known as “unlimited operations.”
In one operation on February 27 and 28, 2011, Findikoglu’s cashing crews withdrew approximately $10 million through approximately 15,000 fraudulent ATM withdrawals in at least 18 countries. In a second operation on December 22, 2012, Findikoglu’s cashing crews withdrew approximately $5 million through more than 4,500 ATM in approximately 20 countries. In a third operation on February 19 and 20, 2013, Findikoglu’s cashing crews in 24 countries executed approximately 36,000 transactions and withdrew approximately $40 million from ATMs. During this third operation, in New York City alone, the crews withdrew approximately $2.4 million in nearly 3,000 ATM withdrawals over the course of less than 11 hours.
Findikoglu was paid a significant portion of the illegal proceeds from these unlimited operations.
Today’s guilty plea is the latest in a string of convictions of dozens of other members of the cybercrime organization, including members of a New York City cell charged in May 2013 in connection with their roles in two of the attacks. See United States v. Collado, et al., 13 CR 259 (KAM).
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Hilary Jager, Douglas M. Pravda, Richard M. Tucker, and Saritha Komatireddy are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant United States Attorney Brian Morris of the Office’s Civil Division is responsible for the forfeiture of assets.
Aliases: Segate, Predator, Oreon
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 13-CR-440 (KAM)