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Marco Verch/Flickr (CC-BY)
A Lithuanian man has pled guilty in a U.S. court to participating in a scam that stole more than $100 million from Facebook and Google.
Evaldas Rimasauskas, a 50-year-old Lithuanian national who was extradited to the U.S. in 2017, admitted to committing wire fraud last week and agreed to forfeit $49.7 million as part of an agreement with prosecutors. According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release, Rimasauskas helped orchestrate “a fraudulent business email compromise scheme that induced two U.S.-based Internet companies to wire a total of over $100 million to bank accounts he controlled.”
Rimasauskas and his unidentified co-conspirators are said to have posed as employees for an Asian hardware company and used everything from forged invoices, letters, and contracts to elicit funds from the two tech giants. The money was then transferred to a series of bank accounts in Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Latvia.
The scheme is said to have garnered roughly $23 million from Google and $98 million from Facebook between 2013 and 2015.
Google released a statement confirming that it had fallen victim to the fraud but that it was able to recoup its losses after alerting authorities.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman described Rimasauskas’ guilty plea as a victory for the U.S. criminal justice system.
“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 U.S. prison,” Berman said.
Rimasauskas, who is set to be sentenced on July 24, could serve up to 30 years in prison.
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Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.