$10M Is Yours If You Can Get This Man to Depart Russia – Krebs on Safety

The U.S. authorities this week put a $10 million bounty on a Russian man who for the previous 18 years operated Try2Check, one of many cybercrime underground’s most trusted providers for checking the validity of stolen bank card information. U.S. authorities say 43-year-old Denis Kulkov‘s card-checking service made him not less than $18 million, which he used to purchase a Ferrari, Land Rover, and different luxurious objects.

Denis Kulkov, a.ok.a. “Nordex,” in his Ferrari. Picture: USDOJ.

Launched in 2005, Try2Check quickly was processing greater than one million card-checking transactions monthly — charging 20 cents per transaction. Cybercriminals turned to providers like this after buying stolen bank card information from an underground store, with a watch towards minimizing the variety of playing cards which might be inactive by the point they’re put to prison use.

Try2Check was so dependable that it will definitely turned the official card-checking service for a number of the underground’s most bustling crime bazaars, together with Vault Market, Unicc, and Joker’s Stash. Prospects of those carding outlets who selected to make use of the store’s built-in (however a-la-carte) card checking service from Try2Check may count on automated refunds on any playing cards that had been discovered to be inactive or canceled on the time of buy.

Many established stolen card outlets will enable prospects to request refunds on useless playing cards based mostly on official experiences from trusted third-party checking providers. However usually, the larger outlets have steered prospects towards utilizing their very own white-labeled model of the Try2Check service — primarily to assist reduce disputes over canceled playing cards.

On Wednesday, Could 3, Try2Check’s web sites had been changed with a site seizure discover from the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Division of Justice, as prosecutors within the Eastern District of New York unsealed an indictment and search warrant naming Denis Gennadievich Kulkov of Samara, Russia because the proprietor.

Try2Check’s login pages have been changed with a seizure discover from U.S. legislation enforcement.

On the identical time, the U.S. Division of State issued a $10 million reward for data resulting in the arrest or conviction of Kulkov. In November 2021, the State Division started providing as much as to $10 million for the identify or location of any key leaders of REvil, a serious Russian ransomware gang.

As famous within the Secret Service’s prison criticism (PDF), the Try2Check service was first marketed on the closely-guarded Russian cybercrime discussion board Mazafaka, by somebody utilizing the deal with “KreenJo.” That deal with used the identical ICQ prompt messenger account quantity (555724) as a Mazafaka denizen named “Nordex.”

In February 2005, Nordex posted to Mazafaka that he was available in the market for hacked financial institution accounts, and supplied 50 p.c of the take. He requested companions to contact him on the ICQ quantity 228427661 or on the electronic mail handle [email protected]. As the federal government famous in its search warrant, Nordex exchanged messages with discussion board customers on the time figuring out himself as a then-24-year-old “Denis” from Samara, RU.

In 2017, U.S. legislation enforcement seized the cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, and the Secret Service stated these data present {that a} Denis Kulkov from Samara provided the username “Nordexin,” electronic mail handle [email protected], and an handle in Samara.

Investigators had already discovered Instagram accounts the place Kulkov posted photos of his Ferrari and his household. Authorities had been capable of establish that Kulkov had an iCloud account tied to the handle [email protected], and upon subpoenaing that discovered passport pictures of Kulkov, and effectively as extra pictures of his household and dear automobiles.

Like many different high cybercriminals based mostly in Russia or in nations with favorable relations to the Kremlin, the proprietor of Try2Check was not notably tough to hyperlink to a real-life identification. In Kulkov’s case, it little doubt was crucial to U.S. investigators that they’d entry to a wealth of non-public data tied to a cryptocurrency change Kulkov had used.

Nevertheless, the hyperlink between Kulkov and Try2Check might be made — satirically — based mostly on data which were plundered by hackers and printed on-line through the years — together with Russian electronic mail providers, Russian authorities data, and hacked cybercrime boards.

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Kulkov posing along with his passport, in a photograph authorities obtained by subpoenaing his iCloud account.

In accordance with cybersecurity agency Constella Intelligence, the handle [email protected] was used to register an account with the username “Nordex” at bankir[.]com, a now defunct information web site that was virtually customary studying for Russian audio system serious about information about varied Russian monetary markets.

Nordex seems to have been a finance nerd. In his early days on the boards, Nordex posted a number of lengthy threads on his views concerning the Russian inventory market and mutual fund investments.

That Bankir account was registered from the Web handle in Samara, Russia, and included Nordex’s date of start as April 8, 1980, in addition to their ICQ quantity (228427661).

Cyber intelligence agency Intel 471 discovered that Web handle additionally was used to register the account “Nordex” on the Russian hacking discussion board Exploit again in 2006.

Constella tracked one other Bankir[.]com account created from that very same Web handle beneath the username “Polkas.” This account had the identical date of start as Nordex, however a special electronic mail handle: [email protected]. This and different “nordia@” emails shared a password: “anna59.”


[email protected] shares a number of passwords with [email protected], which Constella says was used to create an account at a spiritual web site for an Anna Kulikova from Samara. On the Russian residence furnishing retailer Westwing.ru, Ms. Kulikova listed her full identify as Anna Vnrhoturkina Kulikova, and her handle as 29 Kommunistrecheskya St., Apt. 110.

A search on that handle in Constella brings up a file for an Anna Denis Vnrhoturkina Kulkov, and the telephone quantity 879608229389.

Russian car registration data have additionally been hacked and leaked on-line through the years. These data present that Anna’s Apt 110 handle is tied to a Denis Gennadyvich Kulkov, born April 8, 1980.

The car Kolkov registered in 2015 at that handle was a 2010 Ferrari Italia, with the license plate quantity K022YB190. The telephone quantity related to this file — 79608229389 — is precisely like Anna’s, solely minus the (mis?)main “8”. That quantity is also tied to a now-defunct Fb account, and to the e-mail addresses [email protected] and [email protected].

Kulkov’s Ferrari has been photographed quite a few instances through the years by Russian car aficionados, together with this one with the driving force’s face redacted by the photographer:

The Ferrari owned by Denis Kulkov, noticed in Moscow in 2016. Picture: Migalki.internet.

Because the title of this story suggests, the laborious half for Western legislation enforcement isn’t figuring out the Russian cybercriminals who’re main gamers within the scene. Quite, it’s discovering inventive methods to seize high-value suspects if and once they do depart the safety that Russia typically extends to home cybercriminals inside its borders who don’t additionally hurt Russian corporations or customers, or intervene with state pursuits.

However Russia’s struggle in opposition to Ukraine has precipitated main fault traces to look within the cybercrime underground: Cybercriminal syndicates that beforehand straddled Russia and Ukraine with ease had been pressured to reevaluate many comrades who had been abruptly working for The Different Facet.

Many cybercriminals who operated with impunity from Russia and Ukraine previous to the struggle selected to flee these nations following the invasion, presenting worldwide legislation enforcement companies with uncommon alternatives to catch most-wanted cybercrooks. A type of was Mark Sokolovsky, a 26-year-old Ukrainian man who operated the favored “Raccoon” malware-as-a-service providing; Sokolovsky was apprehended in March 2022 after fleeing Ukraine’s obligatory army service orders.

Additionally nabbed on the lam final yr was Vyacheslav “Tank” Penchukov, a senior Ukrainian member of a transnational cybercrime group that stole tens of tens of millions of {dollars} over practically a decade from numerous hacked companies. Penchukov was arrested after leaving Ukraine to satisfy up along with his spouse in Switzerland.