CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Four Europeans were sentenced to federal prison for swindling at least $10 million overseas that was stolen by hacking the bank accounts of U.S. businesses.
According to court records, Victor Chostak, Alexey Marchenko, Oleksandr Kharchenko and Oksana Rabutska orchestrated an elaborate online scheme that preyed on stay-at-home parents, people with disabilities and others who want to work from home.
Federal documents reveal how they conned unsuspecting people from the Carolinas to help them.
Their organization recruited more than 15,000 people -- from Charlotte and other towns across North Carolina and South Carolina -- known as money mules.
The hackers put the money mules through what seemed like a legitimate hiring process. The victims thought they were hired by a real company and were tasked with wiring money for the company to the fake company's partners overseas, primarily in Eastern Europe.
But, court documents say,"In reality, the money mules processed the hackers' stolen proceeds and wired them out of the country to other [YMCO] conspirators."
“They're already in a situation that there's limitations on them working outside the home, and when they see an opportunity they think answers all their prayers, and then turns out to really put them in a worse situation than they were to begin with,” said Tom Bartholomy, president Charlotte Better Business Bureau. "The stories we see, they're heartbreaking."
Bartholomy showed Channel 9 a scam tracker on the BBB's website where people can report scams to warn others.
Channel 9 found several similar scams were just reported Tuesday.
This particular scheme has been ongoing for at least 11 years now.
Federal agents say the four sentenced were involved for several years.
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