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Three Romanians sentenced in $21 million US hacking scheme

SOFWERX hosted a Cyber Capability Expo at their newest facility in Tampa, Fla., Oct. 19, 2017. The expo sought to identify novel, new and provocative cyber technologies to meet current and future special operations forces requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Barry Loo)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Three men from Romania have been given prison sentences in the United States varying between four and eight years for a fraud scheme worth more than $21 million.

The group hacked U.S. computers from Romania while sending phishing messages to thousands of victims and then stealing their Social Security numbers and bank account information, the U.S. Justice Department said in a July 23 news release.

The convicted men are Teodor Costea, Robert Dumitrescu, and Cosmin Draghici. They are from Ploiesti, Romania.

As part of their scheme, the men compromised computer servers in Georgia and elsewhere and installed interactive voice software that tricked people into thinking they were dealing with their own banks, the news release said.

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U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak called the hack operation a “vishing” and “smishing” scheme.

Through vishing, the hackers made thousands of calls to victims across the United States. Thousands of text messages were also sent via smishing.

“These defendants sought to victimize citizens…of Georgia and ultimately the United States,” Pak said. “We are warning cybercriminals…that this office and our law enforcement partners are committed to finding you, extraditing you to this district, and prosecuting you.”

The men were extradited last year and all pleaded guilty earlier this year to multiple charges.

At the time of their arrests in Romania, Dumitrescu possessed 3,278 account numbers, Costea had 36,50 financial account numbers, and Draghici had 3,465 account numbers — “all fraudulently obtained through this scheme,” the Justice Department said.

Based on those numbers, losses came to more than $21 million.

Dumitrescu, 41, was given a seven-year, three-month prison sentence. Costea, 43, will serve eight years and two months. Draghici will serve four years and three months.

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The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.