NEW YORK - Seven people around the world have been arrested in connection with an international cybercrime ring that illegally accessed 1,600 StubHub accounts and stole more than $1.6 million in tickets.
Authorities still don't know how the suspects gained access to the accounts, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. said at a news conference Wednesday. Once inside the accounts, the cyber intruders used the victims' preexisting credit card information and credit cards stolen by additional victims to purchase tickets.
In coordinated arrests, three people were taken into custody in London, two in the New York area, one in Toronto, and one in Spain.
"Today's law enforcement action, reflects the increasingly global landscape in which financial and cyber criminals operate," Vance said. "Fighting cybercrime today, as this demonstrates, requires international cooperation."
StubHub, a website where customers buy and sell tickets to entertainment events, first discovered that more than 1,000 accounts had been breached back in March 2013. Soon after, the company alerted police, who started an investigation.
Authorities say they soon learned that two men, Vadim Polyakov, 30, and Nikolay Matveychuk, 21, were illegally buying the tickets then e-mailing them to three Americans, Daniel Petryszyn, 28, Laurence Brinkmeyer, 29, and Bryan Caputo, 29. According to Vance the three men then resold the tickets and worked with several people including Sergei Kirin, 37, of Russia, to launder the money using international wire transfers and Paypal.
Kirin advertised his money-laundering services online and turned a profit for his part in the ring.
Analysts in the district attorney's office investigated receipts and transaction records and eventually traced the exchanges to internet protocol addresses, PayPal accounts, bank accounts, and other financial accounts used and controlled by the suspects.
Each of the indicted men face a number of felony charges that include money laundering, criminal possession of stolen property, grand larceny and identity theft.
Vance made the announcement alongside several officials including Sgt. Richard Rollings of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Robert J. Sica, special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service's New York field office.
"Criminal organizations such as this aspire to exploit and compromise our financial systems," Rollins said. "Their criminal activities are not restricted by our borders. In fact, they seek to exploit jurisdictional boundaries for their illicit purposes. We simply cannot allow this to occur."
Authorities said Polyakov and Matveychuk bought more than 3,500 tickets for various events including Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake concerts, New York Yankees games, andThe Book of Mormon, a Broadway play. People across the world were victims of the scam, the law enforcement agencies said.
Polyakov was arrested on July 3 while vacationing near Barcelona, Spain. Petryszyn and Caputo were taken into custody in the New York area Wednesday and went before a judge. Brinkmeyer, of Bergen County, N.J., is expected to surrender in the coming days, Vance said.
Although Matveychuk and Kirin remain in Russia, authorities are hoping they will be brought to justice, Vance said.
He added that officials believe they have identified the primary actors in the scam though the investigation continues.
Robert Capps, a former security executive at StubHub, said the arrests might change the way criminals operate. "You are no longer safe to travel and operate outside of your home country, without significant risk of arrest and prosecution," he said in an email. "Isolation is a powerful force in the effort to change behaviors. Confined within the borders of their home country, I suspect we'll see a change in behavior of some of these criminals."
David Szuchman, executive assistant of the Manhattan district attorney, said it's possible the six indicted men may have met on an internet forum for hackers, though their relationship is not entirely clear yet.
At Wednesday press conference, officials displayed a poster board of an online conversation between Petryszyn and Brinkmeyer. It included comments like "...this guy [Polyakov] is pretty much admitting he is a hacker" and "...I don't give a f**k I will launder all the money they want."
Meanwhile, Vance warned that people should vigilantly monitor their accounts and report any activity they don't recognize.
"We are all capable of being victims of cyber criminals," Vance said.