A Lithuanian man extradited to New York to face charges of wire fraud back in 2017 has now pled guilty to a crime that resulted in Facebook and Google collectively paying approximately $121 million for illegitimate bills, according to recent reports. The companies paid out the funds from October of 2013 through 2015, with 50-year-old Evaldas Rimasauskas posing as a representative of a Taiwanese hardware manufacturer both Facebook and Google interact with for legitimate business purposes called “Quanta Computer.”
Although Mr. Rimasauskas is thought to have worked with co-conspirators to complete the scam, the bank accounts that the funds were sent to -- in Cyprus and Latvia -- did belong to him. The conspirators managed to steal a total of $23 million from Google and a further $98 million from the social media giant.
Sentencing proceedings are expected to commence on July 24 and the proceedings are being overseen by U.S. District Judge George Daniels
Nothing lost but no news on further prosecutions
Both Facebook and Google have reportedly commented on the matter, claiming that they were able to detect fraud relatively quickly. The funds were also summarily recovered in short order.
Neither company indicates how the scam was uncovered but Mr. Rimasauskas doesn’t appear to have been involved directly in convincing either company to send the funds in question. Instead, he asserts that his part in the scheme was only to set up the bank accounts.
Nevertheless, Mr. Rimasauskas has admitted that he was aware of the fraudulent actions at the time of the crime and was responsible for signing the documentation and falsified contracts that were ultimately submitted to banks to move the money to the bank accounts. He will now face up to 30-years in prison as well as remitting $49.7 million in accordance with an agreement between Mr. Rimasauskas and prosecutors.
No names have been released with regard to who the co-conspirators in the case may be, leaving relatively serious questions as to who was responsible for actively requesting for Google and Facebook to send money to the accounts.
A crime apart
The fraud instituted by Mr. Rimasauskas and his cohorts is a near-perfect highlight with regard to just how easy it can be to fall for phishing scams. In fact, relative to the majority of previous crimes and scams that have been widely publicized, this particular scam was comparatively brash and open on its face.
Ordinarily, scammers go to great lengths to avoid detection by embedding scams in emails, text messages, or other services. One recent example can be found in an attempt made by malicious actors back in February which utilized a false domain hidden in a string of characters behind a URL that looked as though it was associated with Google Translate. That was sent to users in a legitimate-looking email that sent users across several convincing sites to steal credentials associated with Facebook and Google.
That prior scheme went further to steal information such as IP address, the location, and the type of browser of the user was accessing the sites from.
The primary difference here is that Mr. Rimasauskas and his co-conspirators sought to steal money directly from the tech giants themselves instead of their users.