California Trucking Executive and Alleged Computer Hacker Arrested for Extorting $40,000 from Chicago-Area Software Company
CHICAGO — The president of a southern California trucking company plotted with a Serbian man to extort $40,000 from a Chicago-area software company by hacking into the company’s computer system and threatening to disclose the data, federal authorities announced today.
STEFAN STOJANOVIC, 20, of Zemun, Serbia, hacked into the company’s servers in May and threatened to expose sensitive information, including employee usernames and passwords, unless the company paid him $40,000, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Per instructions from Stojanovic, an employee of the company deposited the funds into a bank account in California, the complaint states.
A check for $25,000 – made payable to “cash” – was subsequently drawn on the California account and deposited into a bank account controlled by Love Freightways, a transportation logistics company in Anaheim, Calif., according to the complaint. The signatory for the Love Freightways account is its president, NEMANJA LOVRE, 32, of Seal Beach, Calif.
Lovre was arrested in California Wednesday morning. The complaint, which was unsealed following the arrest, charges him with intentionally extorting money by threat to cause damage to a protected computer. He is scheduled to appear for a bond hearing today at 2:00 p.m. PDT in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois will seek to remove Lovre to Chicago for prosecution.
Serbian officials arrested Stojanovic early Wednesday morning local time in Serbia. He is expected to face charges in Serbia and be prosecuted in that country.
The Chicago-area software company is identified in the complaint only as “Company A.” The employee who paid the money is identified only as “Individual A.”
According to the affidavit, Stojanovic first contacted the company via email and stated that he worked for Love Freightways, which recently had become a customer of Company A. Stojanovic said in the email that he had hacked into Company A’s servers and obtained the personal identifying information of its employees. He also provided a sample of the stolen data. Individual A ultimately agreed to pay Stojanovic $40,000 in an attempt to protect the hacked data from being released, the complaint states.
Stojanovic instructed Individual A to have a cashier’s check deposited in the bank account in California, the complaint states. On May 21, the $40,000 was received in the California account. In early June, a $25,000 check was drawn on the account and made payable to “cash,” according to the complaint. It was deposited into the Love Freightways account controlled by Lovre, the affidavit states.
The arrest and charge against Lovre were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and John A. Brown, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The charge against Lovre carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Salib of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.