FBI offers $4.2m in bounties to catch cybercriminals

News by Rene Millman

First prize goes to whoever can locate Gameover Zeus instigator, Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev, worth a £2 million reward from the FBI.

The FBI has updated its rollcall of 15 people it wants to arrest as part of its Cyber Most Wanted list.

According to the FBI, these men (no women are on the list) are responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to organisations and people. The agency is willing to pay a combined sum of $US 4.2 million (£2.8 million) for any info that could lead to their arrests.

Top of the list in reward terms is Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev – also known as ‘Lucky12345', ‘Pollingsoon' and ‘Slavik'. The FBI is offering $US 3 million (£2 million) to anyone that can locate the man who has managed to evade capture for six years.

The FBI said that he is wanted for “his alleged involvement in a wide-ranging racketeering enterprise and scheme that installed, without authorisation, malicious software known as ‘Zeus' on victims' computers.”

Zeus was used in one of the most successful botnet outbreaks that managed to infect up to one million computers at its peak. Bogachev is thought to be holed up in the seaside resort of Anapa on the Black Sea in Russia.

The law enforcement agency is also looking for Romanian Nicolae Popescu for his involvement in an online fraud scam involving a fake auto auction. He has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, passport fraud and trafficking in counterfeit service marks. The FBI believes he is still in Romania.

Third on the list is Alexsey Belan. The reward for his arrest stands at $100,000 (£65,000). He is alleged to have stolen user databases from three e-commerce sites in Nevada and California.

Viet Quoc Nguyen is wanted for allegedly hacking into at least eight email providers and stealing confidential information, including proprietary marketing data containing over one billion e-mail addresses.

The list also includes Peteris Sahurovs, who is wanted for his alleged involvement in an international cybercrime scheme that took place from February of 2010 to September of 2010. The FBI is offering a $50,000 (£30,000) for information leading to his arrest.

The FBI is also offering $50,000 rewards for information that could help in arresting Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara, who is wanted for allegedly manufacturing spyware and Shaileshkumar "Sam" Jain, who is wanted in connection for selling “scareware” that convinced users they had infected computers.

The most wanted list also includes five Chinese military personnel charge in May 2014 for allegedly hacking and breaching a number of companies in the nuclear industry.

Security professionals questioned whether the criminals would ever be caught. Ken Munro, security researcher at Pen Test Partners, said the FBI have had “a good go” at catching some others of late, though usually on the back of turning a supergrass within a broader group of cyber-criminals.

“One might argue that they would do better not alerting the criminal to their attentions. They're bound to 'go to ground' for a while, though maybe that achieves a similar end?” Munro said. “The flip side is that other law enforcement organisations globally might keep an eye on the list, so there's potential to correlate investigations.”

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