independent: A Lithuanian man who duped Google and Facebook into transferring over $100m into accounts he controlled has pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
Evaldas Rimasauskas, 50, sent fraudulent invoices to the California-based tech companies between 2013 and 2015, according to the US Justice Department.
He was involved in running a company that controlled several accounts at banks in Latvia and Cyprus, according to a 2016 indictment filed in the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Mr Rimasauskas and his unnamed associates were posing as Quanta Computer, a hardware company based in Taiwan that has done business with Facebook and Google, Reuters reported.
Mr Rimasauskas pleaded guilty to wire fraud in federal court in Manhattan, where Judge George B Daniels set a 24 July sentencing date.
The charge could carry as many as 30 years in prison and a fine of as much as $1m or twice the crime’s proceeds.
The plea deal Mr Rimasauskas reached with prosecutors said he faces almost certain deportation once he finishes his prison time.
In a statement on Wednesday, Geoffrey S Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said: “As Evaldas Rimasauskas admitted today, he devised a blatant scheme to fleece US companies out of $100m, and then siphoned those funds to bank accounts around the globe.”
Some of the money transfers involved banks in New York City, the indictment stated.
“Rimasauskas thought he could hide behind a computer screen halfway across the world while he conducted his fraudulent scheme, but as he has learned, the arms of American justice are long, and he now faces significant time in a US prison,” Mr Berman added.
Mr Rimasauskas was extradited from Lithuania to the United States in 2017. He has agreed to forfeit around $50m, court documents show.
After his guilty plea last week, he could face up to 30 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in July.
In a court appearance, Mr Rimasauskas said that he had knowingly participated in fraud and that his role was to set up the bank accounts to facilitate the scheme, Bloomberg reported.
“I was asked to open bank accounts,” he reportedly said. “After that I did not do anything with these accounts.”
After money was wired from the tech companies to the bank accounts in Cyprus and Latvia, the Justice Department said in its statement, Mr Rimasauskas “caused the stolen funds to be quickly wired into different bank accounts in various locations throughout the world, including Latvia, Cyprus, Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary, and Hong Kong.”
The statement added that he also helped to supply banks with forged documents to explain the large transfers of money.
Mr Rimasauskas was originally charged with five criminal counts that included identity theft and money laundering.
But after last week’s guilty plea for wire fraud, the remaining four charges should be dismissed at sentencing, said his lawyer, Paul D Petrus Jr.
“Mr. Rimasauskas was far from a major actor in this matter,” Mr Petrus said, adding that he did not know of any other people who have been charged in connection with the scheme.
In emailed statements Sunday, Facebook said the company had “recovered the bulk of the funds shortly after the incident and has been cooperating with law enforcement in its investigation”.
Google said it had “detected this fraud and promptly alerted the authorities. We recouped the funds and we’re pleased this matter is resolved”.
According to the FBI, crimes that involve deceiving companies via email have grown more common – and much more sophisticated – in recent years, resulting in billions of dollars in losses.
Source: Published by independent