Crime - Sacto 911

Man guilty in $3.4M fraud scheme with Moscow link targeting San Juan Unified students

A man was found guilty of fraud and identity theft Tuesday for his involvement in a nationwide credit card scheme targeting San Juan Unified School District students.

Ruslan Kirilyuk, 41, of Beverly Hills was found guilty of 24 counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of failure to appear in connection with a nationwide credit card scheme involving Sacramento and Moscow operatives, according to a news release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.

Evidence presented in court showed that Kirilyuk conspired with Mihran Melkonyan, 38, of Sacramento, Rouslan Akhmerov, 42, of Studio City and Alexandr Maslov, 38, of Sacramento, among others, in creating about 71 fraudulent online companies that charged more than $3.4 million to about 119,000 stolen credit card numbers between October 2011 and March 2014, according to the release.

More than 200 report cards were stolen from students in the San Juan Unified School District to acquire their names and Social Security numbers to create fraudulent companies with names meant to mimic real ones, such as “CVS Store,” “Walt Mart” and “Chevran,” according to the release.

The fraudsters worked with a Moscow hacker, who helped them charge stolen American Express accounts to the fabricated companies, according to the release.

They then transferred the money to accounts at shell banks — banks that lack a physical presence — held with stolen identities or by former Russian visitor visa holders, according to the release.

Kirilyuk has been known for cyberintrusion since at least 2003 and is scheduled to be sentenced May 17. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each wire and mail fraud count, two years for identity theft, and up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for failure to appear, according to the release.

Melkonyan was found guilty of 24 counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud at a February 2017 trial. He was sentenced to 19 years and two months in prison on Jan. 4, 2019, according to the release.

Akhmerov pleaded guilty to one count of fraud on Dec. 15, 2014. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 29.

Maslov failed to appear at an earlier court appearance and has been issued an arrest warrant, according to the release. FBI investigators are asking anyone with information regarding his whereabouts to call 916-746-7000.

Vincent Moleski covers business and breaking news for The Bee and is a graduate student in literature at Sacramento State. He was born and raised in Sacramento and previously wrote for the university’s student newspaper, the State Hornet.