Petr Murmylyuk, a.k.a. Dmitry Tokar, is having a bad day. Murmylyuk has been slapped with a slew of federal charges in two different states.
First came a federal indictment in Newark, New Jersey, in which the 31-year-old is identified as the alleged leader of a $1 million securities fraud scheme that involved hacking into the online trading account of unsuspecting individuals, and forcing them to engage in losing trades that benefited a network of phony accounts he and his cohorts set up.
Then, in Manhattan, the expansion of an earlier federal indictment in which Murmylyuk is charged with stealing the identities of more than 300 unemployed people, then collecting phony tax returns in their names.
Both cases involve preying on internet users and employing a network of Eastern European student visa-holders he helped recruit.
The New Jersey charges stem from activity dating back to 2010, when Murmylyuk allegedly began stealing online trading accounts at Scottrade, E*Trade, Fidelity, Schwab and other brokerage firms. After changing the contact information on the accounts to mask their activity from the account holder, he allegedly had them make losing deals to fork over more than $1 million in bad deals.
The complaint describes the misdeeds:
Once the hackers controlled the accounts, they used stolen identities to open additional accounts at other brokerage houses. They then caused the victims’ accounts to make unprofitable and illogical securities trades with the new accounts – referred to in the Complaint as the “Profit Accounts” – that benefitted the hackers.
One version of the fraud involved causing the victims’ accounts to sell options contracts to the Profit Accounts, then to purchase the same contracts back minutes later for up to nine times the price. In another version of the fraud, they used the Profit Accounts to offer short sales of securities at prices well over market price and to force the victim accounts to make irrational purchases. (A short sale is a sale of stock that an investor does not own, but rather borrows from a stock lender and must eventually return.)
Murmylyuk and a conspirator recruited foreign nationals visiting, studying, and living in the United States – including Russian nationals and Houston residents Anton Mezentsev, Galina Korelina, Mikhail Shatov and others – to open bank accounts into which illegal proceeds could be deposited. Murmylyuk and the conspirator then caused the proceeds of the sham trades to be transferred from the Profit Accounts into the those accounts, where the stolen money could be withdrawn.
Murmylyuk was arrested in November 2011 in possession of a laptop that evidenced the alleged fraud. He faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Meanwhile, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, expanded upon a January indictment, alleging an elaborate scheme to engage in wholesale theft of unemployed people’s identities to file falsified tax returns. Murmylyuk was again the leader of an alleged conspiracy that involved recruiting eleven Kazakh student visa-holders through which he retrieved the more than $450,000 in stolen taxpayer funds.
According to documents filed in court, MURMYLYUK created a fake employment-related website with the address www.jobcentral2.net. The site offered fictitious job placement services through a program it claimed was “sponsored by the government and intended for people with low income.” MURMYLYUK sent e-mails with a link to his fake website through legitimate job search forums and college listservs and, in the weeks that followed, hundreds of people visited his site and submitted personal identifying information.
MURMYLYUK is accused of collecting the information submitted to his website, and using it to forge tax returns in victims’ names. Using an e-filing vendor, the defendant claimed fraudulent refunds ranging from approximately $3,500 to $6,500 each. MURMYLYUK successfully obtained refunds in the names of 108 of the approximately 300 different victims who had visited www.jobcentral2.net, yielding more than $450,000 in stolen taxpayer funds.
MURMYLYUK recruited a group of students from Kazakhstan, many located on Russianlanguage social networking sites, to pen accounts at banks across the country and provide their account numbers, online passwords, and other data to MURMYLYUK for use in the scheme.
The phony website has since been taken offline. Murmylyuk’s Kazakhi associates have also been indicted, but since many have returned to their home country they are charged in absentia.
The highest charge against Murmylyuk carries a maximum of five to 15 years. Since he is facing multiple counts on multiple charges, the judge may sentence him consecutively if he is found guilty on more than one of the charges.
- Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, 1 count
- Money Laundering in the Second Degree, 1 count
- Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information in the Second Degree, 1 count
- Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, 1 count
- Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, 25 counts
- Identity Theft in the First Degree, 25 counts
- Computer Trespass, 25 counts
New Jersey charges:
- Conspiracy to commit wire fraud
- Unauthorized access to computers
- Securities fraud
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is also filing a parallel civil action.