Two Massachusetts men were accused by federal prosecutors Wednesday of being members of an international cybercrime ring that tried to steal at least $15 million by allegedly hacking into a dozen financial institutions and the US military’s payroll service.
Authorities said the eight members of the ring would hack into the institutions and divert money from customer accounts to prepaid debit cards that they controlled. As part of the scheme, cards were obtained in the names of people whose identities had been stolen, prosecutors said. Stolen identities were also used to file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS seeking refunds.
Robert Dubuc of Malden was arrested at his home Wednesday morning and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to commit identity theft count. He is in custody and is scheduled for a hearing Monday.
A second Massachusetts man, Lamar Taylor, faces similar charges and was still being sought by authorities.
The two were allegedly footmen in a scheme organized by Oleksiy Sharapka, 33, of Kiev, who was deported from Massachusetts in 2012 after serving a 102-month prison sentence for running a similar scheme, in which he used stolen bank account numbers and identity information to siphon funds from ATM machines.
Authorities said that Sharapka began the scheme soon after his deportation. He and a second Ukrainian national, Leonid Yanovitsky, 38, also of Kiev, remain at large.
According to the indictment in federal court in Newark, Dubuc allegedly wired large sums of stolen money to Sharapka in the Ukraine, while Taylor was captured on surveillance video at a bank in Beverly “on multiple occasions” allegedly trying to withdraw funds using the phony debit cards, and again at an ATM in Malden.
Dubuc was allegedly a crew manager, and Taylor worked for him, according to the indictment.
The targeted institutions include Citibank and JPMorgan Chase, brokerages E-Trade and TD Ameritrade, payroll processor Automated Data Processing Inc., and the payroll arm of the Department of Defense.
The criminal complaint notes that some of the efforts to steal funds from customer accounts were blocked.
The complaint does not make clear the number of hacked firms from which the defendants were able to successfully transfer money, or how the defendants were able to hack into the computer networks of so many major financial institutions.
‘‘Cybercriminals penetrated some of our most trusted financial institutions as part of a global scheme that stole money and identities from people in the United States,’’ New Jersey US Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.
Crews of individuals known as ‘‘cashers’’ were employed in New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, Illinois, and elsewhere to withdraw the stolen funds. The government said the majority of the proceeds were distributed to managers, including to leaders of the conspiracy overseas.
Others under arrest included Oleg Pidtergerya, 49, of New York City’s Brooklyn borough, Andrey Yarmolitskiy, 41, of Atlanta, and Ilya Ostapyuk, 31, of Brooklyn, who is accused of helping move the proceeds of the fraud. Another suspect, Richard Gunderson, 46, of Brooklyn, was being sought.
In Sharapka’s earlier case in Massachusetts, authorities said they found equipment to load information onto debit or credit cards at his apartment in Brighton, as well as a room full of computer and electronics gear. Authorities said they were first tipped to Sharapka by a victim whose credit card was used to purchase a Dell computer.