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Bulgarian national admits role in largest ID theft ring ever

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

UPDATE: A Bulgarian national yesterday admitted his participation in the notorious Shadowcrew forum, an online marketplace for hacking and identity theft that the government says was the largest online marketplace for hacking and identity theft ever.

Aleksi Kolarov, 31, evaded capture until June 14, 2011, when Paraguayan law enforcement authorities arrested him at a hotel in Asunción, Paraguay.

Authorities said he was carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars in various currencies, counterfeit payment cards and electronic implements to re-encode cards.

Shadowcrew.com was an illegal online “carding” marketplace that trafficked in at least 1.5 million stolen credit and bank card numbers and caused more than $4 million in losses to the institutions issuing the cards, the government said.

At one time, Shadowcrew.com had roughly 4,000 members dedicated to malicious computer hacking and the dissemination of stolen credit card, debit card and bank account numbers and counterfeit identification documents, such as drivers’ licenses, passports and Social Security cards, federal authorities said.

Kolarov, who was extradited to the U.S. after his arrest, pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark yesterday to a single count from the indictment, which charged him with conspiracy to commit both identity theft and access device fraud.

“Aleksi Kolorov has now admitted his role in the most notorious online cybercrime marketplace of its time, selling the means to steal money and identities to other criminals,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.

“The arrest and extradition of Aleksi Kolarov to the United States demonstrates the steadfast commitment of the Secret Service to protect our nation’s financial infrastructure from unlawful acts committed by cyber-criminals on our homeland,” said Special Agent in Charge James Mottola of the U.S. Secret Service Newark Field Office.

Kolarov, along with the other 18 co-conspirators, operated the site. He used it to sell illicit merchandise and services to other members, federal authorities said. Three of those charged in the indictment remained at large yesterday.

U.S. District Judge William J. Martini set a May 28 sentencing date for Kolarov.

Fishman credited the U.S. Secret Service with the investigation leading to the indictment. He also thanked the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Office of International Affairs in the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division for its role and the U.S. Marshals Service for its part in the extradition.

Fishman also praised Paraguayan authorities.

Handling the case for the government is Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel V. Shapiro of the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Section of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

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