Moldovan accused of running cybercrime marketplace to face US charges

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A Moldovan national has been extradited from the UK to face charges related to allegedly running an online marketplace selling access to compromised computers.

Sandu Diaconu, 31, appeared in a Florida court Monday for arraignment. According to a Ministry of Justice Press releaseDiaconu was an administrator of the E-Root marketplace, which was shut down by authorities in late 2020. Shoppers could have searched for “compromised computer credentials” on the site, such as remote desktop and secure shell access , “according to their wishes”. criteria such as price, location, Internet service provider and operating system.

According to the DOJ, the site used an online payment system called Perfect Money to conceal the payment chain.

“He also offered his illicit cryptocurrency exchange service with the goal of converting Bitcoin into Perfect Money and vice versa,” the Justice Department said. “This exchange was also seized.”

Authorities estimate that credentials belonging to 350,000 devices were put up for sale on the market, with victims spread across the world. According to the release, one of those victims was a local government agency in Tampa, Florida.

“Many victims have fallen victim to ransomware attacks, and some of the stolen credentials listed on the market were linked to identity tax fraud schemes,” they wrote.

Diaconu was arrested while trying to leave the UK in May 2021 and his extradition to the US was ordered last month by Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Along with an unnamed co-defendant, he is charged with conspiracy to commit computer and access device fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, access device fraud and computer fraud, which together carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The FBI and its partners around the world have aggressively targeted cybercriminals over the past year, carrying out spectacular operations against the infrastructure that forms the backbone of the digital underworld. In April, the agency conducted a dismantling of the Genesis marketwhich coincided with the arrest of more than 100 accused cybercriminals connected to the dark web platform.

In September, the DOJ revealed indictments against nine foreign nationals with alleged ties to the Trickbot malware and the Conti ransomware group.

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James Reddick

James Reddick has worked as a journalist around the world, including in Lebanon and Cambodia, where he was deputy editor of the Phnom Penh Post. He is also a radio and podcast producer for outlets like Snap Judgment.

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