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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 11, 2021

Man Sentenced For Operating Multi-Million Dollar International Money Laundering Scheme

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Ukrainian man was sentenced today to 87 months in prison and ordered to pay $98,751.64 in restitution after pleading guilty to committing wire fraud, stemming from his participation in a scheme to launder funds for Eastern European cybercriminals who hacked into and stole funds from online bank accounts of U.S. businesses.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney R. Andrew Murray of the Western District of North Carolina and Special Agent in Charge Robert R. Wells of the FBI’s Charlotte Division made the announcement.

According the plea agreement and other court documents, from 2009 to 2012, Aleksandr Musienko, 38, of Odessa, Ukraine, partnered with Eastern European computer hackers to obtain over $3 million from U.S. victims’ bank accounts and launder the stolen funds from U.S. bank accounts overseas. Musienko’s partners in the scheme hacked and stole information from victims in the United States and used that information to impersonate the victims. By deceiving the victims’ banks into believing that withdrawals from the victims’ accounts were requested by the victims, Musienko and others were able to steal large amounts of money from the victims’ accounts.

Musienko was involved in recruiting, supervising, and directing a network of “money mules,” or individuals who transmitted funds, with American corporate and individual bank accounts that could receive the stolen funds and transmit it overseas. Musienko, using an alias, recruited American “mules” by advertising on employment websites that he was hiring a financial assistant. Musienko instructed the mules, who believed they were working for a legitimate business, that they were to assist clients transfer funds overseas. In September 2011, Musienko’s partners in the scheme hacked into the online accounts of a North Carolina-based company and transferred a total of $296,278 to two bank accounts controlled by Musienko’s mules. Musienko instructed the mules to wire the funds to several European bank accounts, although the company’s bank detected the fraud and deducted $197,526.36 in stolen funds from one of the mules before it was wired overseas.

Sealed charges were filed against Musienko in 2016 in the Western District of North Carolina. Musienko was arrested in South Korea in 2018 and extradited to the United States in 2019. In or about April 2019, the FBI searched Musienko’s laptop and identified files containing approximately 120,000 payment card numbers and associated identifying information for persons other than Musienko.  

This case was investigated by the FBI. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant support with the defendant’s extradition and with obtaining evidence from South Korea. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham Billings of the Western District of North Carolina, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Taylor Phillips, now with the Middle District of Tennessee.

 

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Financial Fraud
Updated February 11, 2021