Two Romanian citizens extradited to Atlanta to face cyber and fraud charges in connection with a “vishing and smishing” scheme
ATLANTA – Two international computer hackers, Teodor Laurentiu Costea and Robert Codrut Dumitrescu, were extradited from Romania and arraigned on federal charges of wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud and abuse, and aggravated identity theft. A federal grand jury returned the 31-count superseding indictment on August 16, 2017. Cosmin Draghici, another co-defendant, is in custody in Romania awaiting extradition to the U.S.
“While in Romania, the defendants allegedly targeted victims throughout the U.S., including in the Northern District of Georgia, stealing personal information and possibly causing millions of dollars in losses,” said U. S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “These extraditions send a strong warning to cybercriminals and fraudsters worldwide, that we, along with our law enforcement partners, will work tirelessly to bring you to justice.”
“Our message to the victims of cyber fraud is that the FBI won’t let geographic boundaries stop us from pursuing and prosecuting the persons who cause them tremendous financial pain,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Our message to the perpetrators of these crimes is that cybercriminals cannot hide in the shadows of the internet. We will identify them and bring them to justice.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: From approximately October 2011 until February 2014, Costea and Dumitrescu resided in Ploiesti, Romania. An investigation revealed that Costea and Dumitrescu allegedly identified vulnerable computers in the U.S., and installed interactive voice response software that would automatically interact with call recipients. In addition, the defendants allegedly utilized computers in the Atlanta area to install software to initiate thousands of automated telephone calls and text messages to victims in Atlanta and around the country. The messages purported to be from a financial institution and directed victims to call a telephone number due to a problem with their respective financial account.
When victims called the telephone number, they were prompted by the interactive voice response software to enter their bank account numbers, PINs, and full or partial Social Security numbers. The stolen account numbers were stored on the compromised computers and accessed by Costea and Dumitrescu, who then allegedly sold or used the fraudulently obtained information with the assistance of Draghici.
At the time of his arrest in Romania, Costea possessed 36,051 fraudulently obtained financial account numbers. The financial losses from the defendants’ scheme are estimated to be over $18 million.
Teodor Laurentiu Costea, 41, Robert Codrut Dumitrescu, 40, and Cosmin Draghici, 28 are all from Ploiesti, Romania. The charges result from the defendants’ alleged “vishing” and “smishing” attacks from Romania. “Vishing” is a type of phishing scheme that communicates a phishing message, that is, a message that purports to be from a legitimate source, in this case the victims’ banks, through a voice recording. “Smishing” is similar to “vishing,” but communicates a phishing message through text messages.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the FBI.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Herskowitz is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.