Countering State-Sponsored and Other Cybercrime
The Office has prioritized investigating and prosecuting cybercrime cases, with an emphasis on combatting state-sponsored hacking campaigns, cryptocurrency schemes, and illegal and dangerous activity on darkweb markets.
- Senior Adviser To The Operator Of The Silk Road Online Black Market Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison: In July 2023, Roger Thomas Clark, a/k/a “Plural of Mongoose,” a/k/a “Variety Jones,” a/k/a “VJ,” a/k/a “cimon,” was sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiring to distribute massive quantities of narcotics, arising out of his role as the top adviser to Ross Ulbricht, a/k/a “Dread Pirate Roberts,” the owner and operator of the “Silk Road” online illicit black market. During its operation from 2011 until 2013, Silk Road was used by thousands of drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to more than 100,000 buyers and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars derived from those unlawful transactions. Clark advised Ulbricht on all aspects of the enterprise, including urging and facilitating an attempted murder-for-hire. Ulbricht was previously sentenced to life in prison.
- Charges Against Two Iranian Nationals For Cyber-Enabled Disinformation And Threat Campaign Designed To Interfere With The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election: In November 2021, the Office unsealed an indictment charging Musa Kazemi and Sajjad Kashian, two Iranian citizens and residents, for their involvement in a cyber-enabled campaign to intimidate and influence American voters, and otherwise undermine voter confidence and sow discord, in connection with the 2020 U.S. Presidential election. As part of this campaign, the conspirators obtained confidential United States voter information from at least one state election website, sent threatening email messages to intimidate voters, created and disseminated a video containing disinformation pertaining to purported but non-existent voting vulnerabilities, attempted to access, without authorization, several states’ voting-related websites, and successfully gained unauthorized access to a U.S. media company’s computer network that, if not for successful Federal Bureau of Investigation and victim company efforts to mitigate, would have provided the conspirators another vehicle for further disseminating false claims after the election.
- Minnesota Man Sentenced To Three Years In Prison For Scheme To Commit Computer Intrusion And To Illegally Stream Content From Four Major Professional Sports Leagues: In March 2023, Joshua Streit was sentenced to three years in prison for conducting intrusions into Major League Baseball (“MLB”) computer systems and illegally streaming copyrighted content from MLB, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League on a website that the defendant operated, which offered the illegally streamed content to the public for profit. In addition, at the same time the defendant was illicitly streaming copyrighted content from MLB, the defendant engaged in an attempt to extort approximately $150,000 from MLB via a threat from the defendant to publicize unrelated vulnerabilities in MLB’s internet infrastructure.
- Two Men Charged For Conspiring With Russian Nationals To Hack The Taxi Dispatch System At JFK Airport: In December 2022, the Office arrested Daniel Abayev and Peter Leyman for two counts of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions in connection with their hack of the electronic taxi dispatch system (the “Dispatch System”) at John F. Kennedy International Airport (“JFK”). Taxi drivers are required to wait in a holding lot at JFK before they are dispatched to pick up a fare. A computer system ensures that taxis are dispatched in the order in which they arrived. The defendants conspired with Russian nationals, Alexsandr Derebenetc and Kirill Shipulin, who were charged in October 2023, to hack the Dispatch System and move certain taxis to the front of the line, in exchange for payment. Abayev and Leyman have both pled guilty and await sentencing.