Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Five More Indicted in Probe of International Carding Ring
The ring, which authorities dubbed the Western Express Cybercrime Group, operated between 2001 and 2007 and trafficked in at least 95,000 known stolen credit card numbers, including some belonging to victims in New York, where the case is being prosecuted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
The five named in an indictment unsealed this week include Vasilyev Viatcheslav, 33, and Vladimir Kramarenko, 31, of Czechoslovakia, who were arrested in Prague in July 2008 and only extradited to the U.S. last week; Egor Shevelev, 23, a Ukrainian arrested last year during a vacation in Greece and awaiting extradition; Oleg Kovelin, 28, from Moldova (spelled “Covelin” in some documents); and Dzimitry Burak, 26, a Belorussian who was last living in Ukraine. The latter two have not yet been apprehended. A sixth defendant has not been named yet.
The five men named this week allegedly worked in concert with 17 other defendants who were previously charged with a 173-count indictment in November 2007, along with a New York-based company called Western Express International Inc., which authorities allege was used to coordinate and facilitate the illegal activities and launder the ring’s ill-gotten gains. Of those 17 defendants, 14 have been arrested. Five pleaded guilty.
The new defendants have been charged with enterprise corruption, a felony, which is punishable by up to 25 years in prison; two counts of scheming to defraud, also a felony, which is punishable by up to four years in prison; and one count of conspiracy, a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail. Three of the defendants have been indicted on additional charges, including grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen goods and money laundering.
The ring allegedly operated an online carding forum called the International Association for the Advancement of Criminal Activity, where thieves trafficked in stolen credit card numbers and other information. The defendants also allegedly forged credit cards using stolen numbers, and turned them into cash with the unwitting help of eBay users.