Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Texas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
Ukrainian Nationals Plead Guilty to Financial Crimes
Two Ukrainian nationals who provided cash-out and money laundering services to cyber actors pleaded guilty to federal crimes, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Viktor Vorontsov, 40, and Zlata Hanska Muzhuk, 41, were indicted February 2020 and extradited from the Czech Republic to Dallas in March 2021. They pleaded guilty today to three counts each: conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud, and bank fraud.
“These defendants enabled cyber criminals by recruiting and directing a cadre of money mules to transfer proceeds of illicit online activity out of the country – then pocketed a cut of that money for themselves,” said U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham. “The Justice Department will strive to combat money laundering and fraud wherever we find it.”
“The defendants established a sophisticated money laundering network for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining funds for profit and other illicit activities,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno. “Cyber criminals are not constrained by geographic borders and the FBI will use the strength of our international operations and global partnerships to protect American interests.”
According to plea papers, the pair admitted they recruited money mules to create sham companies, open drop bank accounts, and receive and transfer stolen funds.
They advertised their cash-out services to cyber actors in online forums and communicated with these actors on various messaging applications.
After negotiating a portion of the cyber actors’ stolen funds as fee for their services, Mr. Vorontsov and Ms. Muzhuk directed their money mules to transfer funds from victim accounts in the U.S. to drop accounts domestically and abroad.
The defendants now face up to 37 months each in federal prison. Sentencing has been set for Nov. 15.
The FBI’s Dallas Field Office conducted the investigation with substantial assistance from the Government of the Czech Republic, including the Czech National Organized Crime Agency (NCOZ), as well as the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the Czech Ministry of Justice provided substantial assistance in securing the defendants’ extradition from the Czech Republic. Trial Attorney C.S. Heath of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Dana of the Northern District of Texas prosecuted the case.