LAS VEGAS – A Miami man has been sentenced to nine years in prison and ordered to pay over $50 million in restitution after pleading guilty to racketeering and identity theft charges stemming from “Operation Open Market,” a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Secret Service targeting a global criminal enterprise that trafficked in stolen identities and credit card information.
Alexander Kostyukov, aka “Temp”, aka “KLBS,” 30, who resided in Miami at the time of arrest, was sentenced on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Andrew P. Gordon. The Russia-born defendant pleaded guilty to participation in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization (RICO), conspiracy to engage in a RICO, and three counts of unlawfully trafficking in and production of counterfeit identification documents. Specifically, Kostyukov was a vendor of “cash out services” in the organization and provided members a way to transfer or launder the funds they unlawfully obtained from the stolen bank and credit card accounts. Kostyukov received a fee of between 45 and 62 percent of the total amount laundered for providing “cash out services” to a member.
“Millions of dollars and countless amounts of data were stolen from the victims by members of this international conspiracy,” said U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden. “We have now convicted 33 persons, most of who are sitting in federal prison. We will continue to work with our federal and international law enforcement partners to arrest, prosecute and bring to justice the remaining defendants, no matter where they are located.”
“Operation Open Market” targeted an organization known as “Carder.su” whose members, also known as “carders,” were involved in large-scale trafficking of compromised credit card account data and counterfeit identifications and credit cards, as well as money laundering, narcotics trafficking and various types of computer crime. The organization operated an Internet web portal, called a forum, where members could purchase illicitly obtained data and share knowledge of various fraud schemes. A second forum was also created to vet incoming new members. The forums were generally hosted within the former Soviet Union and the upper echelon of the organization resides within the former Soviet Union. In July 2011, the organization had an estimated 5,500 members. A special agent initiated an undercover investigation called Open Market and assumed the identity as a member of the organization when it was in its infancy.
Members of the organization had different roles, including moderators who directed other members in carrying out activities; reviewers who examined and tested products, services and contraband; vendors who advertised and sold products, services and contraband; and members. Members were required to successfully complete a number of security features designed to protect the organization from infiltration by law enforcement or members of rival criminal organizations.
Fifty-six persons were charged in four separate indictments in Operation Open Market. To date, 33 defendants have been convicted, one is pending trial, and the rest are fugitives.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly M. Frayn and Andrew W. Duncan, and Trial Attorneys Kelly Pearson and Catherine Dick of the U.S. Department of Justice Organized Crime and Gang Section.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.com.