Russian nationals sought in cyber scheme that reached Nebraska

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Authorities are tracking two Russian nationals they say are responsible for what one prosecutor called, "one of the most outrageous cyber crimes in U.S. history," and it's a scheme that reached into Nebraska.

Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev wanted by the FBI in connection with sweeping cyber scheme that netted millions

The Department of Justice unsealed documents Thursday showing two Nebraska banks and one private business were among the targets in the elaborate scheme in which the two suspects allegedly made off with millions of dollars.

In Washington D.C. Thursday the U.S. Attorney for Nebraska said there were three victims targeted in Nebraska. Two averted losses, the third lost over $150,000 dollars.

The case outlines how two Russian nationals allegedly stole tens of millions of dollars in what a Nebraska U.S. prosecutor calls one of the most outrageous cyber crimes in U.S. history.

The probe has investigators around the world looking for Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev, accused of stealing about $70 million.

Assistant Attorney General Brain Benczkowski said, “Quietly at computer terminals far, far away, these cyber criminals allegedly stole tens of millions of dollars from unwitting members of our business, nonprofit and governmental and religious communities.”

In charges unsealed Thursday, the pair known as “Evil Corp” are accused of conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud and bank fraud for installing malware on victims computers to steal banking information.

“The methodology was similar each time,” said Joseph Kelly the U.S. Attorney for Nebraska. “Infect the business computer, obtain bank account numbers and security codes and initiate electronic funds transfers to money mules overseas.”

Kelly said, “As to those three Nebraska intended victims, two were averted, in those cases there were no losses associated in those businesses but there was an actual loss of $159,000 with regard to the third.”

First National Bank of Omaha said in a statement: “These indictments are related to crimes committed in 2009. The bank’s losses at that time were minimal and no customers experienced losses.”

The other two listed are Union Bank and Trust in Lincoln and Husker Ag an ethanol producer out of Plainview, in northeast Nebraska.

Documents show that the malware was installed on one of Husker Ag’s computers in 2010 and that the hackers attempted to transfer funds out of a bank account the company had with Union Bank and Trust.

Thursday the Justice and Treasury Departments also announced sanctions against the Russian hacking group.

Authorities in the U.S. are offering a $5 million reward and are working with officials in the U.K. to find the men.