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Press Release

Moldovan Pleads Guilty to Distributing Bugat Malware

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Moldova pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy and damaging a computer, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.

Andrey Ghinkul a/k/a “Andrei Ghincul” a/k/a “Smilex”, 31, of Moldova pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that the defendant was part of a criminal conspiracy that disseminated the Bugat malware, used malware to steal banking credentials, and then used the stolen credentials to initiate fraudulent electronic funds transfers of millions of dollars from the victims’ bank accounts.

This case involves a sophisticated international conspiracy that infects computers with the malware known as Bugat. Bugat, which is also referred to as Cridex and Dridex, is a multifunction malware package. It is specifically designed to automate the theft of confidential personal and financial information, such as online banking credentials, from infected computers through the use of keystroke logging and web injects.

Judge Bissoon scheduled sentencing for July 13, 2017. The law provides for a total sentence of 15 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorneys Mary McKeen Houghton and Shardul S. Desai are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Ghinkul.

Updated February 8, 2017