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News from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington revealed in a press release on July 16 that a former employee of Microsoft is currently awaiting trial after being accused of mail fraud for scheme to steal virtual assets like gift cards worth over $10 million.
The accused, who goes by the name Volodymr Kvashuk, is a 25-years old Ukrainian citizen who worked with the software company Microsoft for over 2 years. According to the press release, Kvashuk first worked with Microsoft as a contractor before being made a full employee in August 2016. Upon employing him into the company, the 25-year old Kvashuk was saddled with the tasks of a software engineer, giving him the opportunity to access critical software in the firm.
Among the roles he handled was testing of Microsoft’s online retail sales platform. However, the release has it that Kvashuk allegedly exploited his role as a software engineer to enrich himself by using a testing account to embezzle over $10 million in digital currency such as gift cards.
The suspect reportedly used a testing Microsoft store account that mimics the experience of customers making purchase and the products were never shipped. Having used such tool to trick the system, the ex employee allegedly resold the ‘currency stored value’ (CSV) such as gift cards on the internet and used the proceeds to enrich himself.
A Bitcoin Mixing Service to Conceal the Theft
According to the charges against him, the software engineer initially started stealing small amounts of about $10,000 using his legit account access. Like many other criminals out there, he wasn’t satisfied with the haul and decided to step his game up. Well, he took it way too high.
In a bid to step up his game to millions of dollars, Kvashuk resolved to using test email accounts associated with other employees in the firm. As a person versed in the tech world, the software engineer attempted to cover his tracks by masking digital evidence that could trace the fraudulent act and internet sales traced back to him. To do so, he used a Bitcoin mixing service to hide the source of the funds entering his bank account.
Fortunately for the billion-dollar software company and unfortunately for him, he ran out of luck and was caught during an investigation last year. The press release divulges that Kvashuk was confronted by Microsoft’s investigators in May 2018 and was eventually fired in June 2018.
The case is currently still under investigation of the U.S. Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s Western Area Cyber Crime Unit..
If found guilty, the suspect may face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.