A Russian national was sentenced to 60 months in prison on Wednesday for attempting to steal $1.5 million in tax refunds by hacking into tax preparation firms, the Department of Justice announced.
Anton Bogdanov, a 35-year-old who is also known online as “Kusok,” participated in a scheme in which he stole personal information and used it to file fraudulent tax returns on behalf of Americans between June 2014 and November 2016. Bogdanov and his co-conspirators exploited a vulnerability in a remote access program used by the tax preparation firms to allow employees to log in to systems from home and while traveling, according to an indictment.
Bogdanov and others then altered tax return information so that the refunds were paid to prepaid debit cards that they controlled. The debit cards were cashed out in the U.S., and part of the proceeds were wired to Bogdanov, who lived in Russia. The scheme netted the group more than $1.5 million in refunds, according to prosecutors.
Bogdanov was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2018 while on vacation and extradited to the U.S. in March 2019. It’s believed that his cohorts are still based in Russia, which does not extradite its own citizens. Bogdanov pleaded guilty in January 2020.
“Victims in this investigation may have thought justice would be elusive when they learned Bogdanov and his cohorts were in Russia. Today’s result should serve as a reminder that our reach is global, and we are laser-focused on stopping cyber criminals wherever they may try to hide,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said in a statement.
“Justice was served in today’s sentence and should serve as a warning that cyber-criminals cannot hide anonymously beyond our borders,” said Jonathan D. Larsen, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation unit.