Evgeniy Bogachev, the Gameover ZeuS creator
Evgeniy Bogachev, the Gameover ZeuS creator. Image: Business Insider.

Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev figures on the FBI’s Most Wanted list of cyber criminals for creating and running Gameover ZeuS, a peer-to-peer botnet that uses ZeuS-like schemes to steal banking information from people around the world.

Unlike other criminals on the list, his whereabouts are widely known, and he isn’t even hiding. However, Russia won’t extradite Bogachev to the U.S. because there is no proof he has committed any crimes back in his homeland.

The high-profile hacker lives a lavish lifestyle in Anapa, Russia, thanks to the hundreds of millions of dollars he and others have taken from hundreds of targets. The United States issued a wanted notice against Bogachev in 2015 after stopping some of his operations a year before in a concerted international effort.

Bogachev has the highest bounty of any FBI hacker

If rewards are an indicator of how much the authorities want a person, then Evgeniy Bogachev is the most wanted cyber criminal in the world. The FBI offers $3 million to any individual who can provide information that leads to his conviction or arrest.

Bogachev is wanted mostly on bank fraud charges, including but not limited to wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and more.

He started his career more than a decade ago under the aliases lucky12345, Slavik, and pollingsoon. He is known to have dealt credit card information at a dark website called Carding World before the Gameover ZeuS days.

Following the high-profile spread of the ZeuS malware, Bogachev and a handful of hacker associates started an operation that relied on the same vulnerabilities to get banking credentials from individuals and organizations worldwide.

Third parties were hired as money mules in different countries, assigned new identities for their mission and trusted with wiring the stolen money to foreign accounts or withdraw it from their own to smuggle out of the country.

Bogachev and his team came to be known as the Business Club, and at the height of their operation, their peer-to-peer botnet had between 500,000 and 1 million enslaved computers just waiting to gather more and more sensitive information.

Russia has adopted Bogachev as their protégé

The whole Gameover ZeuS scheme proved to be successful, and the hacker became extremely wealthy. Such widespread operation called the attention of the Russian intelligence elite, who eventually went on to use the network to search for information of interest in different regions.

At one point, it is believed Bogachev’s deeds reached even U.S. government computers, paving the way for the Russians to take a peek into their documents and sort their way through to find backdoors in their systems.

It was enough to raise concerns in America and abroad, which led to a team effort to slow down Gameover ZeuS expansion in 2014. Hundreds of thousands of computers were liberated, a wanted notice was issued, and the Kremlin was approached to hand over the hacker.

The last thing on that list didn’t happen, and proof that Bogachev is under high-level Russian protection is that he is living in the country under his real name. The man even has a wife and two kids according to a former associate captured and imprisoned in the U.S.

Bogachev is so cool about being on the FBI’s most wanted list that he owns a boat and sometimes goes sailing in the Black Sea, even crossing over to Crimea, Ukraine sometimes for pleasure. The hacker allegedly has a fleet of cars across Europe, three different Russian passports, and a Bengal cat pet.

Unlike other cyber criminals tied to the Russian intelligence service, Bogachev has not been linked to any of the scandals that happened during the 2016 Presidential Election of the United States. Still, the FBI holds him accountable for losses exceeding $100 million worldwide.

Source: FBI