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Romanians Charged With Vishing, Smishing Extradited to U.S.

Two Romanian nationals indicted for their role in a vishing and smishing scheme were extradited from Romania, the United States Department of Justice announced on Friday.

Two Romanian nationals indicted for their role in a vishing and smishing scheme were extradited from Romania, the United States Department of Justice announced on Friday.

The accused hackers, Teodor Laurentiu Costea and Robert Codrut Dumitrescu, were charged last year with wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud and abuse, and aggravated identity theft. A third individual, Cosmin Draghici, is in custody in Romania awaiting extradition.

All three defendants are from Ploiesti, Romania, and have been charged with launching vishing (voice phishing) and smishing (SMS phishing) attacks from Romania. The scheme involves delivering messages supposedly coming from a legitimate source, in this case a bank, through a voice recording or a text message.

According to the indictment, Costea and Dumitrescu were looking for vulnerable computers in the U.S. and were installing interactive voice response software capable of automatically interacting with call recipients.

The indictment also claims the individuals used computers in the Atlanta area to install software to initiate fraudulent, automated telephone calls and text messages to victims in the United States. Allegedly from a financial institution, the messages purported there was a problem with the victim’s financial account and instructed victims to call a telephone number.

When the victims called the number, however, the interactive voice response software asked them to enter their bank account numbers, PINs, and full or partial Social Security numbers. Stored on the compromised computers, the stolen information was then allegedly sold by Costea and Dumitrescu, or used with assistance from Draghici.  

When arrested in Romania, Costea possessed 36,051 fraudulently obtained financial account numbers, DoJ says. The scheme resulted in estimated financial losses of more than $18 million.

“While in Romania, the defendants allegedly targeted victims throughout the U.S., including in the Northern District of Georgia, stealing personal information and possibly causing millions of dollars in losses. These extraditions send a strong warning to cybercriminals and fraudsters worldwide, that we, along with our law enforcement partners, will work tirelessly to bring you to justice,” U. S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said.

Related: Vishing Scheme Targets Payment Cards of Bank Customers in U.S.

Related: European Authorities Arrest 12 In ‘Vishing’ Operation Crackdown

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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