19 Apr 2012

Russian Charged With Stealing $1 Million after Hacking Into US Brokerage Accounts

A Russian national living in New York has been charged in the US with stealing $1 million by hacking into online brokerage accounts. Petr Murmylyuk, 31, could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the US Justice Dept.

The man was allegedly involved in a criminal ring from the late 2010. Members of the group first gained access to brokerage accounts and changed the phone numbers and email addresses so that victims didn’t notice the unauthorized trading. As a result of the scheme, brokerage companies Fidelity, Scottrade, E*Trade, and Schwab said they lost $1 million.

“Hackers continue to find new and advanced ways to steal from the financial sector,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Gilmore Childers in a statement. “Through the illusion of legitimacy, these alleged hackers controlled both sides of securities transactions to game the market and drain their victims’ accounts.”

In one version of the attack, the accounts were used to sell options contracts to “profit” accounts controlled by the attackers. Minutes later, those options contracts were bought for up to nine times the price, prosecutors said.  

Murmylyuk has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, and unauthorized access to computers. The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a parallel civil action against the Russian national, trying to recover the funds.