A man in Lithuania has been charged with tricking two US technology firms into wiring him $100m through an email phishing scam. US officials said, posing as an Asian-based manufacturer, Evaldas Rimasauskas shifted the staff into transferring money into bank accounts under his control. The companies were not named but were described as US-based multinationals, with one operating in social media. Officials called it a wake-up call for even “the most sophisticated” firms.
Mr. Rimasauskas, 48 – who was arrested in Lithuania last week – deceived the firms from at least 2013 up until 2015, according to the US Department of Justice. He purportedly registered a company in Latvia which bore the same name as an Asian-based computer hardware manufacturer and opened various accounts in its name at several banks.
‘Fake Email Accounts’
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said: “Thereafter, fraudulent phishing emails were sent to employees and agents of the victim companies, which on the regular basis conducted multimillion-dollar transactions with the Asian company.” It further added that the emails, which “purported” to be from agents and employees of the Asian firm, and were sent from fake email accounts, directed money for legitimate services and goods into Mr. Rimasauskas’s accounts.
The cash was then “wired into different bank accounts” in locations around the world – including Hong Kong, Latvia, Hungary, Cyprus, Slovakia and Lithuania. He also “forged letters, invoices and contracts to hide his fraud from the banks he used. Officials said Mr. Rimasauskas carried off more than $100m in total, although much of the stolen money has been recovered. “This case should serve as a wake-up call to all companies that they too can be a sufferer of phishing attacks by cyber criminals”, said acting US Attorney Joon H Kim.
“And this arrest should serve as a warning to all cyber criminals that we will endeavor to track them down, wherever they are, to hold them accountable.” The DoJ would not remark on possible extradition arrangements and said that no trial date had been set.