NEWARK, NJ—A Russian national living in New York admitted today that he conspired with others to hack into retail brokerage accounts and execute sham trades, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Petr Murmylyuk, 33, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
Murmylyuk admitted that he participated in a conspiracy to steal from online trading accounts at Scottrade, E*Trade, Fidelity, Schwab and other brokerage firms. Members of the conspiracy first gained unauthorized access to the online accounts of brokerage firm customers. The conspirators then used stolen identities to open additional accounts—referred to in the Information as “Profit Accounts”—at other brokerage houses. They then caused the victims’ accounts to make unprofitable and illogical securities trades with the Profit Accounts, leading to losses in the victims’ accounts and gains in the Profit Accounts. One version of the fraud involved causing the victims’ accounts to sell options contracts to the Profit Accounts, then to purchase the same contracts back minutes later for many times the price.
The members of the conspiracy recruited foreign nationals visiting, studying, and living in the United States to open bank accounts into which illegal proceeds could be deposited. The conspirators then caused the proceeds of the sham trades to be transferred from the Profit Accounts into those accounts, where the stolen money could be withdrawn. The scheme caused combined losses to Scottrade, E*Trade, Fidelity, Schwab and other affected brokerage firms of approximately $1 million.
The charge to which Murmylyuk pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is currently scheduled for Nov. 12, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew McLees; and IRS—Criminal Investigations, New York Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Toni M. Weirauch, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Philadelphia Regional Office, under the leadership of its Regional Director Daniel M. Hawke, and the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section for their assistance in the investigation, as well as the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., for its contributions and cooperation in coordinating the parallel investigations.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Kelly, Deputy Chief of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.