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US DoJ Convicts Two Romanians For Cryptojacking

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The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) convicted two Romanians for indulging in cryptojacking. They were convicted of 21 counts related to a scheme to infect victim computers with malware to mine cryptocurrency.

They also used the malware to steal credit card and other information to sell on dark market websites and engage in online auction fraud.

A press release was issued by Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the DoJ's Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio. The sentencing has been set for August 14.

The two Romanian's, Bogdan Nicolescu, 36, and Radu Miclaus, 37, were charged of infecting and controlling more than 400,000 victims' individual computers, primarily in the U.S., with malware to steal millions of dollars.

Nicolescu, Miclaus, and a co-conspirator who pleaded guilty, collectively operated a criminal conspiracy from Bucharest, Romania.

They were convicted after a 12-day trial for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit service marks, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts each of wire fraud.

The Romanians developed a proprietary malware in 2007 and disseminated it through malicious emails purporting to be from entities such as Western Union, Norton AntiVirus and the Internal Revenue Service.

The malware was secretevely installed onto their computer when the unsuspecting recipients clicked on the attachment file in the emails. They also disabled the victims' malware protection and blocked access to websites associated with law enforcement.

After gaining control of the victims' computer, the defendants used the processing power of the computer to solve complex algorithms for the financial benefit of the group, a process known as cryptocurrency mining.

The crypto-mining by malware increases power consumption, slows down the system and leads to higher electricity bill, as the energy to mine a single bitcoin can cost anything $531 to $26,170.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Romanian National Police. The Office of International Affairs also provided assistance in this case.

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