ShareThis Page
Moldovan pleads guilty in computer malware scheme |

Moldovan pleads guilty in computer malware scheme


A Moldova resident pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Downtown Pittsburgh in connection with an international malware scheme devised to steal personal and banking information from infected computers around the world.

Andrey Ghinkul, 31, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and damaging a computer, acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song said.

Ghinkul was accused of conspiring to distribute malware — known variously as Dridex, Cridex or Bugat — to steal personal and banking information. Hackers then could use the stolen information to authorize fraudulent wire transfers worth millions of dollars from victims’ bank accounts.

Authorities estimated that losses from the scheme in the United States likely topped $10 million, while worldwide losses are close to $25 million.

Local victims of the hacking schemes included Penneco Oil Co. in Delmont and the Sharon City School District, prosecutors have said.

Criminals transferred more than $3.5 million from Penneco’s bank account to accounts in Krasnodar, Russia, and Minsk, Belarus, on Aug. 31, 2012, and Sept. 4, 2012, according to court documents.

Separately, hackers targeted Sharon City schools on Dec. 16, 2011, trying to move $999,999 from the district’s bank account to an account in Kiev, Ukraine, prosecutors said. A diligent bank employee thwarted the theft by calling the district’s business manager for confirmation of the large transfer.

Ghinkul is scheduled to be sentenced July 13. He could face up to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.