Two members of an international organized network that provided cash-out and money laundering services to cyber actors were extradited from the Czech Republic to Dallas.
Viktor Vorontsov, 39, and Zlata Hanska Muzhuk, 40, were charged in a one-count indictment with conspiracy to launder funds filed in February 2020 in the Northern District of Texas.
According to the indictment, Muzhuk and Vorontsov were allegedly members of an international organized network providing cash-out and money laundering services to cyber actors who used stolen bank login credentials to initiate fraudulent electronic funds transfers from victims’ bank accounts to bank accounts (drop accounts) created and controlled by the cash-out actors. For a fee, Muzhuk and Vorontsov provided a network of drop accounts and money mules to receive, transfer, and conceal money derived from the fraudulent online transfers of funds. The indictment alleges the conspiracy existed for the entirety of 2017 and focused on seven electronic funds transfers in October and November 2017, totaling almost $500,000.
During the FBI’s investigation of Muzhuk and Vorontsov, the Czech National Organized Crime Agency (NCOZ) collaborated to gather information and evidence. In late January 2020, NCOZ informed the FBI that Muzhuk was visiting Vorontsov at his residence in the Czech Republic. A criminal complaint and an arrest warrant were issued by a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Dallas and an FBI special agent from Dallas traveled to the Czech Republic to coordinate with the NCOZ.
In an unprecedentedly prompt response on Feb. 6, 2020, the NCOZ effected the arrests of Muzhuk and Vorontsov at the request of the U.S. and seized valuable evidence from both defendants and from Vorontsov’s residence. Muzhuk and Vorontsov were detained pending the extradition proceedings. On Dec. 4, 2020, and Jan. 21, 2021, respectively, the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic granted the extradition of Muzhuk and Vorontsov. The defendants were transferred to FBI custody on March 3, 2021 and were flown from Prague to Dallas.
Vorontsov and Muzhuk appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Toliver in the Northern District of Texas and entered not-guilty pleas to the charges. Vorontsov and Muzhuk remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
The FBI’s Dallas Field Office conducted the investigation. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in securing the defendants’ extradition from the Czech Republic.
Senior Trial Attorney C.S. Heath of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Nichols of the Northern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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Author: March 5, 2021