Earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, an indictment was returned charging Anton Bogdanov, a citizen of Russia, with wire fraud conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and computer intrusion in connection with a scheme in which he and others used stolen personal information to file federal tax returns and fraudulently obtain more than $1.5 million in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service.
Bogdanov was arrested on Phuket, Thailand, on November 28, 2018 pursuant to a provisional arrest request. He was extradited to the United States in March 2019. Bogdanov will be arraigned at a later date.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Jonathan D. Larsen, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS-CI), announced the charges.
“As alleged in the indictment, Bogdanov and his co-conspirators combined sophisticated computer hacking and identity theft with old-fashioned fraud to steal more than $1.5 million from the U.S. Treasury,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “This Office, together with our law enforcement partners, will use all our available resources to target and bring cybercriminals to justice, wherever they are.”
“In the digital age, many of us either fear having our personal information stolen, or have had it stolen. This investigation revealed a major scheme to defraud the federal government and victimize tax payers. Mr. Bogdanov allegedly thought he could escape justice by hiding outside of our jurisdiction, but working together with our international partners, the FBI has the ability to capture and extradite criminals for their day in court,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
“IRS-CI special agents remain committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners around the globe in bringing these cybercriminals to justice,” stated IRS-CI Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Larsen.
Between June 2014 and November 2016, Bogdanov and his co-conspirators misappropriated personally identifiable information (“PII”), such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth of identity theft victims, by gaining unauthorized access to the computer systems of private tax preparation firms in the United States. They then changed the information on the tax returns so that the refunds were paid to prepaid debit cards that he and his co-conspirators controlled. Bogdanov and his co-conspirators also used misappropriated PII to obtain prior tax filings of victims from an IRS website, and filed new tax returns, purportedly on behalf of the victims, so that refunds were paid to prepaid debit cards under their control. The debit cards were cashed out in the United States, and a percentage of the proceeds was wired to Bogdanov in Russia. Since discovering this scheme, the IRS has added additional layers of security to its website.
If convicted of the charges, Bogdanov faces up to 27 years’ imprisonment.