Reports reaching Dark Web News indicate that law enforcement agencies have arrested a key mastermind in the existence of the world’s one-stop shop for global cybercriminals—Infraud.
Thai police have identified the individual as a 31-year-old Russian national who had been blacklisted by U.S. authorities as a central operator of a crime bazaar that deals in goods ranging from stolen credit card information to paraphernalia used in breaching ATMs.
Sergey Medvedev, the culprit, was apprehended on February 2 in Thailand, after six years of being on the run.
His arrest was followed by a February 6 shutdown of the criminal dark web site that had caused significant havoc in the global financial industry.
This operation was a joint venture between various law enforcement agencies that sought to crack down on cybercrime across international borders. The Crime Suppression Division (CSD) collaborated with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in bringing the Russian cyber-gangster to book.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice press release, a total of 36 defendants were indicted in the takedown.
Preliminary investigations had earlier exposed the intriguing details concerning the possible whereabouts of the dark web kingpin.
These operations had identified his location to be in Bangkok, Thailand, and it is this information that guided a team of CSD officers that would descend on an apartment in Sukhumvit, leading to Medvedev’s arrest.
Further investigations revealed that Medvedev was a co-founder of Infraud, which was the brainchild of Medvedev’s associate, Svyatoslav Bondarenko. It was discovered that the dark web syndicate’s payment system was controlled by Medvedev.
This responsibility would later accord him with ownership and administrative rights (of the platform) after the disappearance of his colleague in 2015.
Thai law enforcement indicated that the United States, through its agencies, had spent several years tracking Infraud members as a critical priority in establishing a lethal onslaught of cybercrime in the U.S. and beyond.
In a media conference, Maj. Nuthapong Rattanamongkolsak of the Thai Police echoed the importance of international efforts in combatting cybercrime.
In his words, he believed that the outcomes of the operation were only possible following the interagency collaboration that saw the establishment of the Infraud organization crackdown dating back to the year 2014.
During this time, various criminological techniques had been applied before the February 2018 breakthrough.
The outcomes of the police raid exposed the particular details surrounding dealings of the Infraud kingpin in what was seen as a significant achievement in global cybersecurity. CSD officers impounded a computer and paperwork retrieved from the apartment.
The goods indicated that the Russian national was trading in illicit goods using Bitcoin.
Investigators claim that the man was found with well over 100, 000 Bitcoin that amounts to more than $800 million US Dollars.
Reports further expressed that Medvedev had been married to a Thai woman for one year, and was known to exit and reenter the country in the last six years since hiding from police.
“In Fraud We Trust”
Infraud was established in Ukraine by Bondarenko in the year 2010. It soon became the ultimate marketplace for cybercriminals originating from all corners of the globe.
The platform promoted itself using the infamous slogan “In Fraud We Trust” and specialized in the sale of stolen property.
Specifically, Infraud’s portfolio included the following key activities:
- The obtainment and sale of personal data including social security numbers, ATM details and passwords. Infraud members were known to trade in personal information to be applied in the purchase of goods online, engagement of fraud activities and ripping vendors off their resources.
- The propagation malware and trade in other forms of harmful computer software.
- The allocation of forams and chat rooms designed to support conversations surrounding illegalities.
- Advertisement of online platforms used for the storage of stolen property.
From the above breakdown, it is no secret that Infraud had carved a niche for itself as the ultimate online fraudster republic of this era. The platform owned and controlled vending sites that enabled members to purchase identity data from Infraud.
By 2017, the site had amassed a tremendous online following with ratings that soared to the high heavens. The positive feedback enjoyed by the organization stemmed from the fact that the site upheld high levels of orderliness.
In this effect, the function of administrators, like Medvedev, was to continually screen the activities of vendors to support the high standard policy borne by the syndicate’s values.
Hitherto, various accusations have pointed fingers at Infraud as the perpetrator of crimes involving the theft and sale of personal information.
Stolen data sells like hotcake on the dark web. Cybercriminals are always willing to part with big money in exchange for people’s tax information and credit card details.
As mentioned earlier, such personal information is often used for advancing the interests of fraudulent practices that have culminated in one of the most costly scams in financial history.
Authorities have affirmed that Infraud was among the most advanced online markets for stolen data, which has seen the theft of about four million credit card numbers as of February 2018. Sometime in 2011, it is said that about 795,000 logins to HSBC Bank were up for trading.
More than 1,000 compromised PayPal IDs have once been marketed for sale.
Further, Infraud has been implicated in advertisements involving Visa and Mastercard credit card details. An Infraud gangster is even said to have submitted fraudulent tickets to important U.S. events for a cheaper price compared to the actual cost of the tickets.
To survive, Infraud depended heavily on a feedback system to maintain its relevance in the dark web. Ratings were used by cyber gangsters to guarantee the integrity and quality of products offered on the platform.
The returns derived from Infraud dealings were then laundered through cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
This measure was used to avoid possible detection by law enforcement agencies. Another ploy used by members was the application of nicknames on the platform, instead of referring to each other by their real names.
The U.S. Justice Department has described the recent events as a successful takedown of a behemoth that was responsible for millions of dollars in global financial losses.
Infraud boasted of having more than 10,000 members on its platform that supported the trading of illegal goods. In an announcement last Wednesday, the Department of Justice provided further information concerning indictment of 36 persons—not including Medvedev—who were responsible for the operations carried out by Infraud.
Not surprisingly, five of the 36 arrested individuals hailed from the U.S. Eight of these people will be extradited to various countries across the world. The Infraud criminals originated mainly from different parts of the U.K. and Europe.
While law enforcement agencies have commented on the latest Infraud arrests, the FBI is expected to summon a press conference following the arrest of Medvedev.
This will occur following a wrap-up of investigations to unravel the real mysteries about the man’s exploits.
Nevertheless, the acting US Assistant Attorney General, John Cronan, has described the arrests as one of the boldest expeditions undertaken by the Department of Justice in ensuring a cyber-secure world.
Police statements show that the arrest of the Russian kingpin at the head of the organization were a product of prolonged periods of thorough behavioral analyses and investigations concerning his internet activity.
Across international borders, Thai police continue to exercise strict monitoring of online platforms as a measure of combating cybercrime. Thai law enforcement had apprehended the head of AlphaBay, a sizeable dark web marketplace, last summer.
The darknet marketplace had supported the trading of guns, drugs and other illegal items until his arrest. While Infraud members were subjected to a strict vetting process, AlphaBay indiscriminately admitted all persons to their site.
The AlpaBay story would later feature the sudden death of the AlphaBay admin, following his arrest by Thai authorities.
The recent onslaught on Infraud is among the most coordinated of its kind in this digital age. Apart from Medvedev, the other apprehended persons face possible imprisonment for over 30 years if proven guilty.
Still, analysts believe that this widely publicized event may not deter cyber gangs from going after financial institutions and unsuspecting citizens; it is a tiny dent in the otherwise vast expanse of a world of financial fraud.
Therefore, it is agreeable that Infraud may not be the last big cybercrime story of our time.