May 07--Sun Sentinel
The stolen credit card numbers were used to buy merchandise in South Florida stores, but U.S. Secret Service agents traced the fraud to a man in Ukraine who used the online nickname "Eskalibur."
On Tuesday, a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale sentenced Egor Shevelev, the man behind the mythical name, to 14 years in prison for trafficking more than 118,000 stolen and fraudulent credit card numbers.
Shevelev, 27, was one of the world's top online salesmen of stolen credit card numbers and operated a cyberfraud that crossed international borders, targeting victims in South Florida and New York, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Shackled and with his hands cuffed to a chain around his waist, Shevelev said little in court.
"Nothing, Your Honor," Shevelev replied, through an interpreter, when U.S. District Judge William Zloch asked him what he wanted to say on his behalf.
In February, Shevelev admitted that he was one of the ringleaders of the multimillion-dollar fraud, which he operated from his apartment in Kiev. Prosecutors said the potential loss was more than $59 million, but the actual loss to hundreds of victims has been impossible to calculate.
The credit cards were sold in batches of 50 to 100 and buyers paid $5, $10 or $15 per card for lower maximum-balance accounts, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Anton said in court. For American Express Platinum and other cards with higher maximum balances, the asking price was hundreds of dollars per card, he said.
Authorities have been unable to determine exactly how much money Shevelev made or whether he has any remaining assets in Ukraine or elsewhere, but Anton told the judge, "I'd say he probably did quite well [financially]."
Prosecutors said the cards were used to make fraudulent purchases in Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Martin counties.
At least three South Florida men pleaded guilty to using the cards in 2008 to make purchases, including computers from an office supplies store in Broward County and other merchandise from a Wal-Mart in Stuart. They were imprisoned and ordered to play close to $1 million in restitution, according to court records.
Shevelev probably could have gotten away with his crimes if he had remained in Ukraine, which has no extradition treaty with the U.S., authorities said.
But the U.S. Secret Service was tipped off when Shevelev took a vacation on the Greek island of Rhodes in 2008, and he was arrested and extradited to New York in 2010.
The 14-year prison term imposed by the judge on Tuesday is in addition to the five years that Shevelev has already spent in custody.
He was previously sentenced to serve at least 13 years in prison last year after a jury in New York found him guilty of state charges. The prosecution in his jury trial in New York said he was the ringleader of an international cybercrime ring that sold stolen credit card information online and resulted in more than $4 million worth of fraudulent transactions.
In the South Florida case, Shevelev pleaded guilty to two counts of access device fraud and admitted that he trafficked in credit cards between 2007 and 2008.
Payments for the stolen credit card information were mostly sent by Western Union wire transfers to Kiev from the U.S. and other countries, investigators said.
Shevelev, who is expected to serve his time in a federal prison in New York, graduated with a college degree in economics but never had a job in his native country, according to court records. He has been in custody since he was 22 and will be deported to Ukraine when he completes his prison sentence, authorities said.
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