Laptop computer not involved in heist, brand unknown. Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

The fifth and final defendant charged with using credit and debit cards obtained from a series of cyberattacks on U.S. companies — resulting in an estimated $5 million in losses and causing one company to go out of business — pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Irina Fedoseeva, 33, a Russian national who lives in Koreatown, entered his plea Monday in Los Angeles to conspiracy to use unauthorized credit and debit cards and admitted causing more than $225,000 in losses, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In a plea agreement, Fedoseeva admitted to helping make fraudulent purchases with debit cards obtained as a result of cyberattacks on two health care administrators in December 2015 and February 2016. After helping a co- defendant make unauthorized purchases from retail stores that included Apple and Best Buy, Fedoseeva resold the merchandise on the internet.

Four other Russian defendants previously pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges for their roles in the computer attacks.

Timur Safin, 29, of Burbank; Dmitry Fedoseev, 34, of Koreatown; and Kristina Gerasimova, 22, of the Miracle Mile district, each pleaded guilty March 20 to aggravated identity theft and debit/credit card fraud. Siarhei Patapau, 26, also of Miracle Mile, pleaded guilty March 6 to similar felony charges.

According to court documents filed in two separate cases, the five defendants conspired with computer hackers, some of whom are believed to be in Russia.

The hackers staged attacks that included:

— a July 2014 intrusion into an airline’s computer system in which the hackers funded pre-paid credit cards in the amount of $900,000;

— a December 2015 hack into the system of a health care administrator that allowed the defendants to reactivate a dormant dependent care account and order the production of numerous debit cards that were used to make about $550,000 in fraudulent purchases; and

— a February 2016 attack on another health care administrator that allowed the intruders to order the production of debit cards linked to reactivated accounts that were used to make nearly $3.5 million in fraudulent purchases, court papers show.

The computer hackers directed the pilfered debit and credit cards to be sent to the five defendants charged in Los Angeles and other co-conspirators. Members of the conspiracy then used the unauthorized cards to make cash withdrawals, purchase money orders and make purchases at retail outlets such as Apple, Best Buy, The Home Depot and Target.

For example, Safin admitted in court that he used a number of the pre- paid credit cards to withdraw $5,074 at ATMs throughout Los Angeles County and to purchase money orders totaling $19,420. He used debit cards obtained from the health-care administrators to make at least $225,000 in fraudulent purchases.

When they were arrested last year, Fedoseev was in possession of more than 519 unauthorized credit, debit and gift cards, and Patapau was found with nearly 525 credit and debit cards in other people’s names, prosecutors said.

As a result of their guilty pleas, Patapau, Safin and Fedoseev each face up to a dozen years in federal prison. Gerasimova faces up to seven years, and Fedoseeva faces a possible maximum of five years, prosecutors noted.

U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson is expected to sentence the defendants in June and September.

–City News Service

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