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June 14, 2013

Salem man charged in international hacking scheme

SALEM — Authorities are searching for a Salem man who was one of eight people charged by federal prosecutors in a $15 million hacking, identity fraud and money-laundering scheme believed to be based in the Ukraine.

Lamar Taylor, 37, is facing charges that he aided in the conspiracy by making cash withdrawals from bank accounts that were funded with money stolen in an elaborate hacking scheme, then wiring money overseas.

The charges were announced Wednesday by federal prosecutors in Newark, N.J.

The complaint alleges that Oleksiy Sharapka, 33, of Kiev, Ukraine, began the operation shortly after he completed an eight-year federal prison term for similar crimes and was then deported, in March 2012.

The group targeted customer accounts at banks, brokerage firms, payroll processing companies and the Internal Revenue Service, which received fraudulently filed returns purporting to be from taxpayers, but which had been filed by the gang members after they obtained personal information on various individuals, prosecutors say.

One other Massachusetts man, Robert Dubuc, 40, of Malden was charged and has been arrested. Taylor worked under Dubuc, prosecutors said.

The others charged are from the Ukraine, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Atlanta, Georgia.

Four of the eight have now been arrested, two are believed to be in the Ukraine, and authorities are looking for Taylor and one other man, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors described the group as “modern-day bank robbers” who hacked into the computers of businesses including Aon Hewitt, ADP, Citibank, E-Trade, J.P. Morgan Chase, PayPal, TD Ameritrade, TIAA-CREF and several others. The group also gained information from the Department of Defense.

The group would then divert funds from customer accounts into bank accounts and prepaid debit cards that they had set up. Associates like Taylor would then withdraw the stolen money and wire it to the Ukraine.

They also allegedly used some of the information they gathered to file fraudulent tax returns seeking refunds from the IRS.

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