NEW YORK, December 28 (Itar-Tass) — The Federal Court for the Southern District of New York on January 4, 2013, will announce the verdict to Russian citizen Vladimir Zdorovenin, accused by the US authorities of cyber fraud, identity theft and illegal operations with securities. The decision was made by presiding Judge Paul Gardephe.
Zdorovenin, 55, in January was extradited to New York from Switzerland, where he was detained in March 2011. According to US prosecutors, Zdorovenin and his son Kirill since 2004 were engaged in the theft of credit card data of US citizens through front companies, by which inflicted damage to the tune of several hundred thousand US dollars. In addition, they get illegal access to brokerage accounts of Americans and were manipulating in their interests stock market prices.
According to the indictment, while in Moscow, the Zdorovenin registered in the United States a number of companies and opened their accounts in the banks JP Morgan Chase and Asia Europe America’s Bank. These companies offered on their websites products for which customers paid with credit cards. Vladimir Zdorovenin also controlled another company, which had an account with a major brokerage firm Ameritrade, through which trading of shares in the stock market was made.
According to prosecutors, during the scam the Zdorovenins stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from American citizens. Payments illegally made through credit cards without the knowledge of their owners were transferred to the bank accounts of the Russian companies. According to prosecutors, the defendants bought numbers of the credit cards from people who got them illegally, as well as obtained them with the use of special programs that were covertly installed on other people’s computers.
Additionally, as alleged in the indictment, the Zdorovenins used the Internet to unlawfully access the financial services accounts of victims located in the United States and then transferred or attempted to transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars from those accounts to bank accounts under the Zdorovenins’ control. Finally, the Indictment charges that after taking over victims’ online brokerage accounts, the Zdorovenins bought and sold thousands of shares of certain companies’ stock in an effort to manipulate the prices of those stocks. The Zrorovenins allegedly realized profits through this scheme by simultaneously purchasing or selling shares of the same stocks through their own online brokerage account, maintained in the name of Rim Investment Management, Ltd.
The US prosecutors said that Kirill Zdorovenin was in charge of the technical aspects of the fraudulent transactions, while Vladimir was responsible for its overall management and legalisation of stolen funds. Zdorovenin senior came to the attention of the FBI in June 2004, when at meeting in Cyprus with an FBI secret informant allegedly tried to involve him in a fraudulent scheme.
In February this year, Vladimir Zdorovenin pleaded guilty to two of the nine charges brought against him. The prosecution demands for the Russian a sentence of 4-5 years in prison. The defence lawyers have requested for him no more than two years in prison, taking into account the he had not broken the law earlier and has repented.
The interests of the defendant are represented free of charge by defence attorney Sabrina Shroff, who was the first defence lawyer for Russian citizen Viktor Bout, who is serving his sentence in the United States for conspiring to smuggle weapons to a Colombian rebel group. Shroff tries to convince the court that Mr Zdorovenin was a “puppet” in the hands of his son, only fulfilling his instructions, and therefore cannot fully share with him the responsibility for their actions.
The prosecutor’s office, in turn, insisted that Zdorovenin Sr. was aware of the illegal nature of the operations of Kiill and took an active part in the fraud. According to Attorney James Pastore, in particular, records of conversations of Vladimir Zdorovenin with an FBI informant in Cyprus confirm this.