Law enforcement officials in the U.S. want two men facing charges in London to be extradited over their roles in running the Infraud hacking network.
The pair, Anthony Nnamdi Okeakpu and Taimoor Zaman, are part of a group of 36 members who were behind the darknet forum responsible for the loss of hundreds of millions of Euros.
According to court documents, Zaman and Okeakpu were senior members of the group. When presented before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, they pleaded not guilty to the charges leveled against them.
A U.S. government lawyer present at the court, however, said that Zaman was operating under the alias “Scottish” in discharging his duties as an administrator and moderator of the forum.
Further revelations indicate that he advertised credit card details on the site and posted over 250 times.
Not only this, he was in charge of promoting the sale of other digital products and stolen data.
Zaman is a man whose operations had come into public view sometime back, and as a result, he was being sought by operatives in several countries, according to a lawyer in charge of the case.
Before flying to the U.K., he was on the radar of Italian authorities who had begun questioning him for his alleged involvement in various criminal activities.
So when he got to England, law enforcement caught up with him at a house located in Blackburn, Lancashire.
On the other hand, the second accused, Okeakpu, operated under the alias “Moneymafia” on the Infraud site.
He is a full-time student at a London-based college, and he was a forum moderator.
Okeakpu’s arrest happened on February 14 at Heathrow Airport in London some moments after he flew into the country from Nigeria.
During the arrest, law enforcement personnel confiscated several types of computer accessories from his apartment.
Back to the court, a U.S. lawyer testified that the two men will have to wait for at least one year before they go on trial.
Infraud Group Operations
Through identity theft, stealing of financial information and carding, the group was successful in draining the bank accounts of individuals located in different parts of the world, especially in the U.S., hence the reason why American authorities are keen on bringing the culprits to book.
True to their motto “In Fraud We Trust,” they managed to implement it by undertaking highest fraud levels seen over the past few years.
Their site was brought down earlier this year after joint collaboration by international authorities.
Infraud had members from different nationalities, and they would work hand-in-hand to ensure that they skillfully undertake various types of operations.
But before the dark web forum was ultimately shut down, authorities had been looking for 31-year-old Sergey Medvev, a Russian and a key operator of the site.
Medvev had been on the run for 6 years, and authorities finally caught up with him in Thailand, which has hosted various darknet kingpins including the founder of AlphaBay Market, who died in prison shortly after his arrest, and the former right-hand man to the admin of Silk Road, who was extradited to the U.S. this past summer.
As a co-founder of Infraud, Medvev was responsible for the payment system used by the group, meaning that he was in direct control of all the financial transactions that took place.
He earned administrative rights after the disappearance of his associate, Svyatoslav Bondarenko, in 2015.
Law Enforcement Efforts to Bring Down Infraud
Because of the level of theft perpetrated by Infraud, authorities had been on their trail for several years.
Security agencies in the U.S. were particularly interested in this operation because a majority of those affected were in the country.
Other law enforcement personnel involved were from European and Asian countries.
Why It Wont Be Easy to End Fraud
Carding is one of the most popular and lucrative forms of cyber fraud out there. The theft of financial data is so severe that a lot of banks have been sued over the years for lack of taking the security of their users seriously.
As much as this might be the case, cybercriminals have come up with several tactics that have seen them successful in their mission.
Through numerous methods of trial and error, fraudsters are able to come up with new tactics that see them succeed in online operations.
What is notable is that some methods become obsolete and others sprout.
But what makes online fraud thrive is that one does not necessarily need any specific skills.
What is required is knowing how specific systems work, and there are already guides easily accessible on the dark web to help them learn these systems.
The other contributing factor is that online fraud is perpetrated remotely.
By use of special software which conceal the actual IP and MAC address of a device, criminals can initiate illegal funds transfers and they can stay on the run for the longest time possible, provided they have left no traces of their actions.
What Next After the Fall of Infraud?
Now that Infraud has already fallen, there are already forums out there that have established themselves in fraud-related activities.
Some are bigger and have a more expansive customer base, and it will take many more years to bring such a system down.
But if that happens, others will rise to become bigger and better, depending on how they undertake their operations.
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