Maksim Yakubets, 32, has been named the world’s biggest cyber criminal after he allegedly ran the world’s most harmful cyber-crime group Evil Corp
A Russian hacker accused of cheating UK victims out of hundreds of millions of pounds has been named as the world’s biggest cyber-criminal.
Former intelligence agent Maksim Yakubets, 32, splashed out on a pet tiger and lion cubs, and owns a customised Lamborghini with a number plate that reads THIEF in Russian.
He is described as untouchable in Moscow, where he regularly films himself driving ‘doughnuts’ around police, with tyres screeching, in one of his fleet of supercars.
For a decade the multi-millionaire is said to have run the world’s most harmful cyber-crime group – the appropriately named Evil Corp. It has targeted thousands of Britons and stolen their life savings by hacking their bank details.
Yakubets, who has worked for Russia’s FSB intelligence agency, is said to live like a king, splurging more than £250,000 on his wedding.
But now the US has put up a $5million (£3.8million) reward – the largest ever offered for a cyber-criminal – for his capture. The State Department yesterday charged him with running two international computer hacking and bank fraud schemes.
Russian native Yakubets, who was part of the group dubbed the ‘most significant cyber-crime threat to the UK’, owns a customised Lamborghini with a number plate that reads THIEF in Russian (pictured). He provided a ‘Malware’ software which was downloaded by people who clicked on an email attachment which arrived in their inbox and stole their bank details
The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), Metropolitan Police and National Cyber Security Centre, working alongside the US Justice Department and FBI, have spent five years investigating Evil Corp, which is said to pose the ‘most significant cyber-crime threat to the UK’.
Yesterday, referring to last year’s poison attack by Russian agents in Salisbury, a senior Whitehall source said: ‘These guys live like kings in Russia. This is part of our post-Salisbury take-down on Russia.’
According to investigators, Evil Corp has targeted the UK for a decade. It uses several types of rogue software that have intercepted bank transfers from the public and hundreds of businesses including schools and religious organisations.
Yakubets (pictured left) and Igor Turashev (right) were sought for their alleged role in what officials described as one of ‘the most outrageous cyber crimes in history’. Turashev was indicted by US authorities for the cybertheft of tens of millions of dollars, earlier today
Yakubets is alleged to have run the operation since May 2009 from the basements of Moscow cafes. He is said to have employed dozens of people to steal money from victims in 43 countries using computer viruses that are designed to target only victims outside Russia. The ‘malware’ is downloaded when a victim clicks on an email attachment. It remains hidden on their computer to harvest their personal and financial data such as online banking details – which is subsequently used to drain their accounts.
Operating online under the name Aqua, the hacker and his associates are accused of stealing at least £76million. US treasury officials also say Yakubets has provided ‘direct assistance to the Russian government’ by acquiring confidential documents for the FSB. He was also said to be part of a scheme in which Russian intelligence agencies recruit criminals to hack national security targets.
UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), Metropolitan Police and National Cyber Security Centre, working alongside the US Justice Department (pictured) and FBI, have spent five years investigating Evil Corp. The Russian is said to have run the operation since May 2009 in basements of Moscow flats
Yakubets, a Russian national originally from Ukraine, is still at large, as is his administrator Igor Turashev, 38. Another 15 people associated with the hacking group have also been sanctioned by the US treasury. Many are believed to be living in Moscow.
If Yakubets leaves Russia, he will be arrested and extradited to America to face charges. Financial sanctions have been imposed on him by the US. But privately, insiders said the chances of him setting foot outside Russia remain small.
Yakubets (pictured in a wanted poster distributed by the FBI in Washington) allegedly lived like a king, splurging more than £250,000 on his wedding, and was charged with running two international computer hacking and bank fraud schemes, by State Department yesterday. He is at large similarly to Igor Turashev and 15 others have been sanctioned by the US treasury
The NCA and Metropolitan Police have previously targeted a network of money launderers who funnelled profits back to Evil Corp. So far eight people have been convicted and are serving 40 years in prison between them.
At a press conference yesterday NCA director Rob Jones described how Yakubets led a ‘flamboyant, extravagant’ and lavish lifestyle in Russia. He said he was ‘cash rich with fast cars’ bought from the proceeds of the fraud.
Mr Jones accused Yakubets and Turashev of being ‘two of the most prolific cyber-criminals in the world’. Lynne Owens, director general of the NCA, said: ‘The significance of this group of cyber-criminals is hard to overstate. They have been responsible for campaigns targeting our financial structures with multiple strains of malware over the last decade.
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott Brady warrants for the arrests of Maksim Viktorovich Yakubets, yesterday. He spoke at a press conference yesterday where NCA director Rob Jones accused Yakubets of being one of the most ‘prolific cyber-criminals in the world’ alongside Turashev
A police officer is photographed with Yakubets who was accused of running the cyber network which cheated UK victims out of millions
‘We are unlikely to ever know the full cost, but the impact on the UK alone is assessed to run into the hundreds of millions.
‘It is our assessment that Maksim Yakubets and Evil Corp represent the most significant cybercrime threat to the UK. While the harm caused by this group has targeted mainly financial institutions, there is no doubt that their activity has had real-world impacts, defrauding and stealing from victims in the UK and worldwide. The Lamborghini Yakubets drives was someone’s life savings, now emptied from their bank account.’
Assistant US attorney general Brian Benczkowski accused Yakubets of being a ‘true 21st Century criminal who, with the stroke of a key and the click of a mouse, committed cyber-crimes across the globe’.
Mr Jones described how Yakubets led a ‘flamboyant, extravagant’ and lavish lifestyle in Russia. He said he was ‘cash rich with fast cars’ bought from the proceeds of the fraud, earlier today, and suggested the impact on the UK will ‘run into the hundreds of millions’