Cybercrime Marketplace Mastermind Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that one of the world's most notorious cybercriminals, Roman Vega, 49, a Ukrainian national, was sentenced December 12 to serve 18 years in prison. He was convicted for his role in co-founding the CarderPlanet website.
CarderPlanet was essentially a clearinghouse - or maybe more aptly a Sam's Club - for stolen credit card numbers. When he was arrested, Vega possessed more than half a million stolen credit card numbers.
He pleaded guilty in 2009 to money laundering and access device fraud conspiracies. Using the aliases such as "Boa," "Roman Stepanenko" and "Randy Riolta" Vega conspired with others to steal large volumes of credit card information. The credit card data was then sold to people to purchase merchandise and services fraudulently.
"Today's sentence is a significant milestone in our ongoing effort to aggressively target and dismantle global cybercrime organizations that operate from every corner of the world," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman in a written statement. "Vega helped create one of the largest and most sophisticated credit card fraud sites in the cybercrime underworld a distinction that has earned him the substantial sentence he received today."
Vega was a prolific cyberthief. He founded the Boa Factory about 15 years ago to provide a forum for buyers and sellers to meet. A short time later he co-founded CarderPlanet. It became one of the first and busiest online marketplaces for the sale of stolen financial information, computer hacking services and money laundering.
"CarderPlanet became a premier online criminal bazaar in significant part as a result of Vega's leadership," according to the DOJ. "Most notably, the defendant helped institute a quality control system for sales. If a cyberthief wanted to sell stolen credit card information on CarderPlanet, the information was subjected to a vetting process overseen by a manager to ensure that buyers obtained usable stolen data."
But CarderPlanet also dabbled in e-currencies, such as WebMoney. "This provided the participants with security and a layer of anonymity," the DOJ said. "Vega and his co-conspirators thus created an efficient and trustworthy online marketplace for the buyers and sellers of stolen financial information not unlike legitimate e-commerce sites."
During its heyday CarderPlanet had more than 6,000 members. Most of them were Eastern Europeans and Russians. Extradition from these countries is often problematic - especially for savvy hoods.
Vega and his colleague were savvy hoods. They implemented an organizational structure that mimicked titles from La Cosa Nostra. The CarderPlanet was headed by a "Godfather." Next in rank were "Dons," including the defendant, who used the name "Boa" when serving in this role. There was a "consigliere," an advisor, the role in which Vega served using the name "RioRita."