By David Jones
NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) - Two American men said to belong to an international cyber crime ring admitted hacking into accounts at banks, brokerage firms and government agencies in an attempt to steal some $15 million, New Jersey authorities said on Tuesday.
The two were part of a scheme to "cash out" bank accounts and pre-paid debit cards opened in the names of others, said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in a statement.
Robert Dubuc, 40, of Malden, Massachusetts, and Oleg Pidtergerya, 49, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to commit access device fraud and identity theft before U.S. District Judge Peter Sheridan in Trenton federal court, Fishman said.
Dubuc entered his plea on Tuesday and Pidtergerya did so on Monday, he said.
The cyber crime organization was allegedly led by Oleksiy Sharapka and Leonid Yanovitsky of Kiev, Ukraine, he said. They have been indicted on similar charges, but are at large.
The hackers tapped into accounts in 2012 and 2013 at global financial businesses and institutions - Citibank N.A., JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A., PayPal, TD Ameritrade, the U.S. Department of Defense, TIAA-CREF and others - and diverted money to accounts and debit cards they controlled, Fishman said.
They then employed "cash out" operations, using people who would withdraw the stolen funds at ATMs and with fraudulent purchases in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Georgia and elsewhere, he said.
Pidtergerya and Dubuc admitted sending proceeds of the fraud to Sharapka and Yanovitsky in Ukraine, the prosecutor said.
The investigation identified attempts to defraud companies and customers of more than $15 million, he said.
Wire fraud conspiracy carries a potential sentence of 20 years in prison, while the other two charges each carry the possibility of five years in prison, as well as heavy fines.
Sentencing was scheduled for July 7 for Pidtergerya and July 8 for Dubuc.
A total of eight people faced charges in the case, the prosecutor said.
The investigation was run by U.S. Secret Service, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Gunna Dickson)