Finally, a villain who looks the part.
With the look and lifestyle of an “Austin Powers” supervillain, Evgeniy Bogachev is crime with a fucking theme song.
The millionaire hacker collects luxury cars in the seaside resort town of Anapa in southern Russia, and sails his yacht on the Black Sea. He has the shaved head and wry smile of Doctor Evil. He wears leopard-print pajamas. He even has the cat-stroking thing down.
For once, a guy named Public Enemy No. 1 actually looks the part.
Bogachev, now 33, made a name for himself when authorities shut down servers hosting his “malware” program called GameOver ZeuS in 2014. His gang had emailed the malicious software to millions of people. When users clicked the links in these legit-looking phishing emails, Bogachev gained access to their computers.
This let him steal hundreds of millions of dollars from the bank accounts of “anyone with enough money worth stealing,” according to the New York Times. Bogachev’s victims include a North Carolina pest-control company, a Massachusetts police department and a Washington Native American tribe.
Pennsylvania indicted Bogachev in 2014 on charges of conspiracy, computer hacking, wire and bank fraud and money laundering. The federal government charged him with bank fraud conspiracy in Nebraska. The FBI offered $3 million dollars?—?its most ever for a cyber crime case?—?for information leading to his arrest or conviction. And the bounty’s still up.
When the outgoing Obama administration in December imposed sanctions on Russia for allegedly hacking the 2016 US election, the Treasury Department named Bogachev, too?—?not for election hacking, but for cyber-crimes.
Beyond simply draining bank accounts, the GameOver ZeuS hack also gave Bogachev access to every file on the affected computers?—?from private photos to sensitive corporate data?—?whether they belonged to private citizens, companies or government officials. If an intelligence agency got its hands on the files, that’d be pretty juicy data.
Now, the New York Times reports that Russian spy agencies may be working with Bogachev. Citing US officials, the Times writes, “while Mr. Bogachev was draining bank accounts, it appears that the Russian authorities were looking over his shoulder, searching the same computers for files and emails. In effect, they were grafting an intelligence operation onto a far-reaching cybercriminal scheme.”
The FBI plans to arrest Bogachev if he sets foot outside Russia, which has no extradition treaty with the US. Moscow officials say they won’t bring him in unless he commits a crime on Russian soil.
The fact that Russia hasn’t arrested Borgachev is “the most powerful argument” that they’re working with him, former FBI cyber-crime agent Austin Berglas told the Times.
Bogachev is exhausted by his hacking work and complains of having little time for his family, acquaintances told the Times. FBI supervisor J. Keith Mularski described the mastermind as “very, very paranoid.” With a $3 million bounty still up, and this latest blast of publicity, that’s unlikely to change.
At least the dastardly villain has his cat to comfort him.