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Ukrainian Back in U.S. on Cyber Fraud Charges

(CN) - A Ukrainian national made his initial court appearance in Charlotte, N.C. on Wednesday after being extradited from Poland to face charges related to a $10 million cyber money laundering operation.

Viktor Chostak, 34, of Ukraine, and three other individuals, have been charged with 11 counts of money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit computer fraud, conspiracy to transport stolen property, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, four counts of transporting stolen property and six counts of aggravated identity theft.

According to a redacted indicted unsealed in the Charlotte, N.C. Federal Court Wednesday morning, beginning in 2007, Chostak and his alleged co-conspirators created and operated a sophisticated online infrastructure that allowed hackers to obtain and conceal stolen money, primarily from U.S. companies' bank accounts, and transfer it to countries outside the United States.

The organization created seemingly legitimate websites for fake companies, then sent spam emails advertising employment opportunities. When an individual responded to the spam solicitations, the organization put the applicant through what appeared to be a legitimate hiring process.

The organization falsely represented that the individual's job was to receive payments from businesses into their personal bank accounts, withdraw the money, then wire the funds to the company's partners overseas.

In reality, the individuals merely acted as money mules, processing hackers' stolen proceeds and wiring them out of the country to other conspirators, the government says, adding that it believes the criminal enterprise laundered at least $10 million in stolen money from the United States overseas.

Prosecutors alleged recruited, hired and managed others who oversaw the money mule operations. Chostak also allegedly worked with computer programmers to meet the needs of the organization's online infrastructure.

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