A Lithuanian man and associates developed an email phishing scheme that would eventually lead Google and Facebook to pay out about $120 million in two years.
The breakdown netted $23 million from Google in 2013 and $98 million from Facebook in 2015, according to Bloomberg.
Evaldas Rimasauskas, who led the phishing attack, sent fake invoices via emails to employees of Google and Facebook, pretending to represent Taiwanese hardware maker Quanta Computer.
The emails from the scammers told Facebook and Google workers that the companies owed Quanta money, and then instructed them to make payments to a bank account controlled by them.
The U.S. extradited Rimasauskas from Lithuania in August 2017. In a New York court, he pled guilty to one count of wire fraud under an agreement with prosecutors in front of U.S. District Judge George Daniels, and will forfeit $49.7 million.
The fake emails were sent to employees and agents of the two tech giants. The thieves, who claimed to represent Taiwanese hardware maker Quanta Computer, told Facebook and Google workers that the companies owed Quanta money, and then directed payments to be sent to bank accounts controlled by the scammers.
The money was wired to bank accounts in Latvia and Cyprus. “Rimasauskas caused the stolen funds to be quickly wired into different bank accounts in various locations throughout the world, including Latvia, Cyprus, Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary, and Hong Kong,” stated Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. “Rimasauskas caused forged invoices, contracts, and letters that falsely appeared to have been executed and signed by executives and agents of the victim companies, and which bore false corporate stamps embossed with the victim companies’ names, to be submitted to banks in support of the large volume of funds that were fraudulently transmitted via wire transfer.”
Rimasauskas is scheduled to be sentenced in July and could face up to 30 years in prison.