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Member of Russian Gang That Hacked Tax Prep Firms Sentenced to Prison in U.S.

The United States Department of Justice this week announced the sentencing of a Russian national for his role in a group that attempted to obtain $1.5 million in tax refunds from the Department of the Treasury.

The man, Anton Bogdanov, 35, who used the online moniker “Kusok,” was arrested in Thailand in November 2018 and extradited to the U.S. in March 2019. He was charged with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and computer intrusion in May 2019 and pleaded guilty in January 2020.

According to court documents, between June 2014 and November 2016, Bogdanov and co-conspirators hacked into the computers of private tax preparation firms in the US and stole personally identifiable information, including Social Security numbers and dates of birth.

Using the misappropriated information, they then changed the tax return information of their victims so that refunds were sent to debit cards that the fraudsters controlled. Bogdanov also used the stolen data on the IRS Transcript System website to obtain prior tax filings of victims and then filed new tax returns, to have refunds sent to the attackers’ prepaid debit cards.

While the debit cards were cashed out in the United States, some of the proceeds were wired to Bogdanov, who was living in Russia.

Using the scheme, Bogdanov and his co-conspirators attempted to steal approximately $1.5 million in tax refunds from the Department of the Treasury.

Bogdanov was sentenced to 60 months in prison and was ordered to pay $476,713 in forfeiture.

“Bogdanov utilized sophisticated means to steal two valuable commodities, people’s personally identifiable information and funds belonging to the American Taxpayer,” said Jonathan Larsen of the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division. “IRS-Criminal Investigation will continue to work side-by-side with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute international cyber criminals who infiltrate our tax system for personal gain.”

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