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US sentences cybercriminals from Russia, North Macedonia to stiff prison terms

A judge advocate office gavel. (Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte/U.S. Air Force)

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

The United States has sentenced nationals from Russia and North Macedonia to prison for their roles in a transnational cybercrime operation that was responsible for the theft of $568 million worldwide, the U.S. Justice Department said on March 19.

Sergei Medvedev, 33, of Russia, and Marko Leopard, 31, of North Macedonia were sentenced to 10 years and five years in prison, respectively.

Both had previously pleaded guilty to one count each of racketeering conspiracy.

Medvedev was a co-founder and administrator of Infraud, an online “criminal enterprise that existed to enrich its members and associates through a myriad of criminal acts of identity theft and financial fraud,” according to the Justice Department. He was arrested in Thailand in 2018.

Leopard acted as web host to Infraud members, helping in the sale of illegal goods and services.

“Dismantling a cybercrime organization like Infraud requires aggressive pursuit of not only those who steal, sell, and use personal data, but also those who provide the infrastructure that allows cybercrime organizations to operate,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

“Today’s sentences should serve as a warning to any web host who willingly looks the other way for a quick buck — and that the United States will hold these bad actors accountable, even when they operate behind a computer screen halfway across the world.”

The online marketplace facilitated the sale of counterfeit documents, stolen bank account and credit account information, and stolen personal information for nearly seven years until it was taken down by law enforcement in 2018.

Under the slogan “In Fraud We Trust,” at its peak the marketplace had 10,000 members, making it among the largest-ever cybercrime cases prosecuted by the Justice Department.

In an updated indictment, the Justice Department announced in December 2020 that 36 people had been charged for their alleged involvement in running Infraud.

In that announcement, it said international law enforcement authorities had arrested 13 defendants from the United States, Australia, Britain, France, Italy, Kosovo, and Serbia.