Russian Project Lakhta Member Charged with Wire Fraud Conspiracy

A criminal complaint was filed today charging a Russian national for his alleged role in a conspiracy to use the stolen identities of real U.S. persons to open fraudulent accounts at banking and cryptocurrency exchanges.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint, Artem Mikhaylovich Lifshits, 27, of St. Petersburg, Russia, serves as a manager in “Project Lakhta,” a Russia-based effort to engage in political and electoral interference operations.  Since at least May 2014, Project Lakhta’s stated goal in the United States has been to disrupt the democratic process and spread distrust towards candidates for political office and the political system in general.  Since 2014, Project Lakhta has sought to obscure its conduct by operating through a number of entities, including the Internet Research Agency (IRA).  The Translator Department, where Lifshits served as a manager beginning around January 2017, is alleged to be responsible for much of Project Lakhta’s influence operations, which are still ongoing.

Lifshits allegedly conspired with other Project Lakhta members to obtain means of identification of real U.S. persons, which the conspirators then used to open fraudulent accounts at banking and cryptocurrency exchanges in the victims’ names.  Lifshits and the conspirators allegedly used these fraudulently opened accounts to both promote Project Lakhta’s influence operations and for personal enrichment.

“Today’s charges allege that Russian national, Artem Lifshits, conspired with others to steal Americans’ identities and use them to open fraudulent bank and cryptocurrency accounts,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “Lifshits participated in this fraud in order to further Project Lakhta’s malign influence goals and for his own personal enrichment.  This case provides a clear illustration of how these malicious actors fund their covert foreign influence activities and Russia’s status as a safe-haven for cyber criminals who enrich themselves at others expense.”

“Project Lakhta conspirators used the stolen identities of U.S. persons to further their goals of undermining faith in our democratic institutions and for personal gain,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.  “Artem Mikhaylovich Lifshits is yet another Russian national charged in the Eastern District of Virginia with engaging in a conspiracy that victimized real U.S. persons and institutions.  This case demonstrates that federal law enforcement will work aggressively to investigate and hold accountable cyber criminals located in Russia and other countries, which serve as safe-havens for this type of criminal activity.”

“According to the complaint, the subject engaged in a wire fraud conspiracy to further Russian foreign influence efforts and to enrich himself and others,” said Alan E. Kohler, Jr. FBI Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division. “The FBI will move aggressively to uncover and disrupt any efforts aimed at undermining our democratic institutions.”

“These designations are notable accomplishments in the Secret Service’s relentless efforts to safeguard the financial system from transnational cyber-crime,” said Matthew S. Miller, Special Agent in Charge, Washington Field office. “International cooperation continues to be an essential element in addressing the global challenge of transnational cyber-crime and we greatly appreciate our law enforcement partners for their assistance in this case.  The Secret Service will continue to work closely with our domestic and international partners to bring transnational cyber criminals to justice.”

The criminal complaint does not allege that any U.S. citizens knowingly participated in Project Lakhta’s influence operations.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jay V. Prabhu and Carina A. Cuellar are prosecuting the case, with the assistance of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

In addition to these criminal charges, today the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Lifshits and two other Project Lakhta actors for sanctions based on the malicious cyber-enabled activity outlined in the complaint.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

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    Attorney General Merrick B. Garland today announced a new Department of Justice effort to help protect our communities from the recent increase in major violent crimes.
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  • Former Hilo Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty for Assaulting an Inmate and Conspiring with Other Officers to Cover it Up
    In Crime News
    A former correctional officer at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center pleaded guilty to three felony offenses yesterday for assaulting an inmate; for failing to protect the inmate from being assaulted by three other correctional officers; and for conspiring with those officers to cover it up.
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  • Departments of Justice and Homeland Security Release Data on Incarcerated Aliens
    In Crime News
    Today, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security released the Alien Incarceration Report for Fiscal Year 2019.  The data shows that 94 percent of confirmed aliens incarcerated in Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and United States Marshals Service (USMS) facilities were unlawfully present in the United States.  Additionally, the report found that nearly 70 percent of known or suspected aliens in BOP custody had been convicted of a non-immigration-related offense, and 39 percent of known or suspected aliens in USMS custody had committed a non-immigration-related offense.
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  • Colorado Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime After Unprovoked Stabbing of Black Man
    In Crime News
    A Colorado man pleaded guilty today to a federal hate crime for stabbing a Black man from Ontario, Oregon while the man was sitting in a fast-food restaurant.
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  • Tractor-trailer trafficker sentenced for smuggling over 100 kilograms of cocaine
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  • Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s Visit to the United Kingdom and Italy
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Georgia Man Sentenced to Prison for Running Ponzi Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Georgia man has been sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for running a Ponzi scheme that ensnared over a hundred victims, and induced college students and others to part with money for his own personal benefit.
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  • Briefing With State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Scott W. Busby
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Scott Busby, Deputy [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Publishes Statement on 2016 President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Report
    In Crime News
    Today, the Justice Department published a statement on the 2016 President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Report, Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods.  The statement is a response to PCAST’s claims regarding what it described as forensic “feature comparison methods.”
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  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Israeli Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Lapid
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Sécurité Sanitaire Mondiale: Financements, activités et évaluations de l’USAID et des CDC relatifs aux capacités des pays à faire face aux menaces des maladies infectieuses avant l’apparition du COVID-19
    In U.S GAO News
    This is the French language highlights associated with GAO-21-359. Constats du GAO Au 31 mars 2020, l’Agence des États-Unis pour le développement international (USAID) et les Centres des États-Unis pour le contrôle et la prévention des maladies (CDC) ensemble avaient alloué un total de plus de 1,2 milliard de dollars et avaient décaissé environ 1 milliard pour financer des activités de sécurité sanitaire mondiale (global health security - GHS), sur des fonds affectés durant les années fiscales 2015 à 2019. L’USAID et les CDC ont soutenu des activités de renforcement des capacités des pays dans 11 domaines techniques en rapport avec la lutte contre les maladies infectieuses. Les fonds engagés ont soutenu des activités de GHS dans pas moins de 34 pays, dont 25 étaient partenaires du Programme d’action pour la sécurité sanitaire mondiale (Global Health Security Agenda - GHSA). Activités soutenues par les États-Unis en Éthiopie pour renforcer la sécurité sanitaire mondiale Les évaluations de responsables officiels des États-Unis portant sur les capacités de 17 pays partenaires du GHSA à faire face aux menaces des maladies infectieuses révèlent qu’à la fin de l’année fiscale 2019, la plupart de ces pays avaient des capacités dans chacun des 11 domaines techniques retenus mais connaissaient diverses difficultés. Les équipes-pays interinstitutionnelles américaines réalisent des évaluations de capacités bisannuelles dont le personnel du siège de l’USAID et des CDC se sert pour assurer un suivi des progrès des pays. Selon les évaluations de l’année fiscale 2019, 14 pays avaient développé ou démontré des capacités dans la plupart des domaines techniques. Les rapports ont démontré par ailleurs que la plupart des capacités de ces pays étaient restées stables ou avaient augmenté par rapport à 2016 et 2017. C’est dans le domaine technique de la résistance aux antimicrobiens qu’ont été enregistrées les plus fortes augmentations de capacités, par exemple dans la mise en place de systèmes de surveillance. Dans son analyse des rapports, le GAO a constaté que les difficultés les plus fréquentes en matière de renforcement des capacités de GHS étaient les faiblesses des institutions de l’État et le manque de ressources et de capital humain. Selon des responsables officiels, certaines de ces difficultés peuvent être résolues par plus de financement, d’assistance technique ou d’efforts diplomatiques des États-Unis, mais beaucoup d’autres restent en dehors du control du gouvernement des États-Unis. Ceci est une version publique d’un rapport confidentiel émis par le GAO en février 2021; les informations jugées sensibles par l’USAID et les CDC en ont été omises. Pourquoi cette étude du GAO La survenue de la maladie à coronavirus (COVID-19) en décembre 2019 a démontré que les maladies infectieuses peuvent causer des pertes de vie catastrophiques et infliger des dommages durables à l’économie mondiale. L’USAID et les CDC dirigent les efforts déployés par les États-Unis pour renforcer la sécurité sanitaire mondiale, à savoir la capacité mondiale à se préparer à lutter contre les maladies infectieuses, à les détecter et à y riposter, ainsi qu’à réduire ou à prévenir leur propagation sur le plan international. Ces efforts comprennent des activités liées au GHSA, qui vise à accélérer l’obtention de progrès en matière de respect des règlements et autres accords mondiaux relatifs à la santé. Le rapport 114-693 de la Chambre des représentants prévoyait un examen, par le Government Accountability Office (GAO), de l’emploi des fonds de GHS. Dans ce rapport, le GAO examine, pour les 5 années fiscales précédant le début de la pandémie de COVID-19 : 1) l’état des financements et des activités de l’USAID et des CDC relatifs à la GHS et 2) des évaluations d’organismes des États -Unis, réalisées à la fin de l’année fiscale 2019, portant sur les capacités des pays partenaires du GHSA à faire face aux menaces des maladies infectieuses et sur les difficultés que ces pays ont dû relever pour renforcer leurs capacités. Le GAO a analysé des documents d’organismes des États-Unis et d’organismes internationaux. Le GAO a aussi interviewé des responsables officiels à Washington et à Atlanta (Géorgie) ainsi qu’en Ethiopie, en Indonésie, au Sénégal et au Viet Nam. Le GAO a choisi ces pays sur la base de critères tels que la présence de personnel de multiples organismes des États-Unis. Le GAO a également analysé des évaluations interinstitutionnelles des capacités des pays à faire face aux menaces des maladies infectieuses durant l’année fiscale 2019 et les a comparées aux données de référence de 2016 et 2017. Pour plus d’informations, s’adresser à David Gootnick au (202) 512-3149 ou à gootnickd@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice Releases Final Report
    In Crime News
    Today, following months of virtual meetings, testimony and study, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr submitted the final report of the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice to the White House.  This report represents the first comprehensive study of law enforcement in more than 55 years.
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  • Condemning ISIS-K Attack on a Kabul Gathering
    In Crime News
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  • Former Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent and Task Force Officer Convicted of Conspiracy and Conversion of Property
    In Crime News
    A former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent and a former DEA task force officer were convicted Tuesday by a federal jury in New Orleans, Louisiana, in connection with a long-running scheme to steal personal property and money from individuals who had been arrested.
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  • Bhutan National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • The United States and the Holy See: Promoting Religious Freedom and Defending Human Dignity
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Justice Department Reaches Agreement with the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of St. Louis to Ensure Polling Place Accessibility for Voters with Disabilities
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today reached a settlement under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of St. Louis to ensure that St. Louis polling places are accessible during elections to individuals with mobility and vision impairments. 
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  • Judicial Conference Approves Measures to Increase Security for Federal Judges
    In U.S Courts
    A series of recommendations to upgrade and expand security for federal judges and increase Congressional funding to support the security program have been approved by the federal Judiciary’s national policy-making body.
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    In Travel
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  • Seven MS-13 Gang Members Indicted in Violent Crime and Drug Distribution Conspiracy
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Nashville, Tennessee, returned a 16-count superseding indictment Wednesday, charging seven MS-13 gang members with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and serious firearm-related offenses, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee.
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  • Assistant Secretary Schenker Travel to Jordan, Algeria, and Morocco
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Genetics, Diagnosis, Treatment: NIH Takes On Sickle Cell Disease
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
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  • Economic Adjustment Assistance: Actions Needed to Better Address Workers’ Needs and Assess Program Effectiveness
    In U.S GAO News
    Workers who are eligible for federal economic adjustment assistance (EAA) programs may face challenges using them. There are four EAA programs and one tax credit that focus on assistance to individual workers displaced by policy and economic changes. These include programs administered by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and Department of Labor (DOL), which deliver services such as job training and counseling through state and local grantees. Selected grantees in all three states GAO visited described common challenges faced by workers from enrollment in EAA programs through re-entry into the job market. Grantees Described Common Challenges Workers Face in Accessing and Using Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program Services Interviews with selected grantees and GAO's data analysis revealed two key challenges with administering EAA programs and serving workers: Delays in grant decisions. From fiscal years 2015 through 2018, DOL took longer than legally required to process between 9 percent (3 out of 35) and 20 percent (3 out of 15) of National Dislocated Worker Grant applications. Grantees may serve fewer workers and may interrupt services to workers while awaiting decisions. DOL does not collect information on reasons for these delays and is missing opportunities to help ensure that dislocated workers receive timely assistance. Lack of information sharing. ARC and DOL do not share information about their EAA grant programs with grantees or each other, including information about grant projects that serve similar populations in similar geographic areas. As a result, ARC and DOL may fail to maximize program impact and reach across the 13-state Appalachian region. Regional officials said that coordination would enable them to better identify specific services needed by dislocated workers and which program might best be equipped to provide them. DOL has established performance measures to track outcomes for its EAA programs, but has experienced challenges with assessing the impact of job training offered under these programs. GAO reviewed two relevant studies on the impact of DOL's EAA programs containing some evidence that intensive services, such as one-on-one consultations and case management, were effective in improving earnings outcomes for dislocated workers. However, the studies were unable to effectively assess the impact of job training offered to dislocated workers under the programs due to methodological challenges. By collecting more quality evidence, DOL could be better able to determine if its EAA programs are helping workers achieve their employment goals. Federal EAA programs help workers adjust to various economic disruptions, such as policy changes on trade, defense, or energy, and shifts in immigration, globalization, or automation that cause a prolonged cyclical downturn and can dislocate workers. GAO was asked to review these programs. This report examines (1) what challenges eligible workers face in using EAA programs, (2) what challenges grantees face in implementing EAA programs and serving workers, and (3) what is known about the outcomes and impacts of selected EAA programs. GAO analyzed DOL grant processing data from fiscal years 2015 through 2018, the most recent data available at the time of GAO's analysis; reviewed outcome data from program year 2018 and program impact evaluations; interviewed ARC, DOL, and Department of the Treasury officials, as well as state and local officials in three states that experienced different economic disruptions and use different EAA programs; and reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and guidance. GAO is making seven recommendations, including that DOL address grant processing delays, DOL and ARC share information, and DOL prioritize improving the quality of evidence on the impact of job training for dislocated workers. DOL and ARC agreed with GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact Cindy S. Brown Barnes at (202) 512-7215 or brownbarnesc@gao.gov.
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  • Statement from Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband and Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin on Legal Victory Protecting Religious Worship in the Nation’s Capital
    In Crime News
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  • The Americans with Disabilities Act at 31
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  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud
    In Crime Control and Security News
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