It looks as if the U.S. government is closing in on some of the folks who they believe were involved in the huge data theft at TJX that became public earlier this year. The Boston Globe reported this morning that a Ukrainian named Maksym Yastremskiy is among the prime suspects in the case, although they’re not sure whether he was involved in the actual theft of debit and credit-card numbers. Rather, authorities allege that Yastremskiy was a key cog in the machine that turned those stolen numbers in liquid assets by selling them in the underground. Greg Crabb, who heads up many of the cybersecurity investigations at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said Yastremskiy, who was arrested earlier this summer by Turkish authorities, may have been a major force in these sales.
Crabb said Yastremskiy allegedly sold card numbers through online forums hosted overseas, sometimes in Cyrillic or that were password protected. He is likely the largest seller of stolen TJX numbers, Crabb said.
Prices ranged from $20 to $100 per stolen card, and the cards were sold in batches of up to 10,000, depending on factors like the credit limits of the consumer accounts being traded. Crabb said Yastremskiy is associated with at least one other Ukrainian man previously charged with similar crimes, though unrelated to the TJX case.
“These guys are selling the good stuff,” Crabb said.
If those prices are correct, they would be substantially higher than typical prices for stolen credit-card numbers in online forums. Experts say that carders will sell stolen numbers for as little as a few dollars, depending on the credit limit and how fresh the numbers are. But the numbers stolen in the TJX case may have been seen as more valuable because the theft went undetected for several months, so the buyers had plenty of time to use the cards before the fraud was noticed.