FBI Brings Charges Against Five With Possible Links to JPMorgan Hack

The long arm of U.S. justice prevails as individuals in Florida and Israel are apprehended and charged with crimes involving Bitcoin exchanges and stock manipulation.

data breach

While attacks against organizations continue to make headlines, not all attacks go unpunished. The FBI is charging five individuals with criminal activities that might be linked to the massive attack against JPMorgan Chase in 2014.

The FBI's public disclosures do not make a direct link to the JPMorgan attack, though media reports from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal cite unnamed U.S. officials alleging that the individuals charged are in some way linked to the JPMorgan incident.

Banking giant JPMorgan Chase publicly disclosed in October 2014 details of a cyber-attack against its infrastructure that was first reported in August. That disclosure revealed that 76 million households and an additional 7 million small businesses were affected by the data compromise.

One of the indictments against the alleged JPMorgan attackers is related to the operations of an underground Bitcoin exchange. In a press release, the FBI alleges that Anthony Murgio and Yuri Lebedev operated an unlicensed Internet Bitcoin exchange called Coin.mx, which was operated through a phony front company. The FBI noted that Coin.mx was operated in violation of federal anti-money laundering regulations.

Both Murgio and Lebedev were arrested by the FBI at their residences in Florida.

"Through Coin.mx, Murgio and Lebedev and their co-conspirators enabled their customers to exchange cash for Bitcoins, charging a fee for their service," the FBI stated. "In doing so, they knowingly exchanged cash for people whom they believed may be engaging in criminal activity."

One aspect of the criminal activity was being a vehicle for enabling ransomware attack payments, the FBI claimed. The FBI alleges that Coin.mx exchanged cash for Bitcoins for the Cryptowall ransomware.

The second set of charges issued by the FBI were against three individuals alleged to be involved in a stock manipulation scheme. Police arrested Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein in Israel, with extradition currently being pursued by the U.S. Attorney's Office. A third individual, Joshua Aaron, remains at large and is being sought by law enforcement.

"As alleged, the defendants manipulated trading in U.S. securities from overseas, using fake identities to funnel millions of dollars in unlawful proceeds through a web of international shell companies," Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. "Using false and misleading spam e-mails sent to millions of people, these defendants allegedly directed their pump-and-dump scheme from their computers halfway around the world."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.