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Man Pleads Guilty Over $100M BEC Scheme Targeting Google, Facebook

A 50-year-old Lithuanian citizen has pleaded guilty over his role in a business email compromise (BEC) scheme in which Google and Facebook employees were tricked into wiring a total of more than $100 million to bank accounts he controlled.

Evaldas Rimasauskas was arrested by Lithuanian authorities in March 2017 and was extradited to the United States in August of the same year. He was initially charged on five counts, but he has now only pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, for which he faces up to 30 years in prison.

Rimasauskas registered a company in Latvia whose name was similar to Quanta Computer, a Taiwan-based hardware manufacturer that both Google and Facebook had worked with.

The operation, which took place between 2013 and 2015, involved sending phishing emails to employees of Google and Facebook -- both companies regularly conducted multimillion-dollar transactions with Quanta -- and tricking them into wiring money to bank accounts opened by Rimasauskas in Latvia and Cyprus. The money was then transferred from these accounts to several banks around the world, including Hong Kong, Cyprus, Slovakia, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania.

The scheme also involved fake invoices, contracts and letters that increased the chances of targeted employees agreeing to send money to the specified accounts.

According to Bloomberg, authorities believe Rimasauskas was in charge of creating the infrastructure used in this scheme, while others handled the part of the operation that involved sending the phishing emails.

Facebook is said to have wired nearly $100 million, while Google sent more than $23 million to the fraudsters. Google said it recovered all of the money, while Facebook claimed to have recovered most of it.

The FBI reported last year that the losses and potential losses reported as a result of BEC scams had exceeded $12 billion globally.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.