Why it matters: Even the biggest tech companies in the world aren’t safe from scammers, just ask Evaldas Rimasauskas. The 50-year-old Lithuanian man has pleaded guilty to his role in stealing $122 million from Facebook and Google using a phishing scheme.
According to prosecutors, Rimasauskas and his conspirators sent emails to the two firms between 2013 and 2015, in which they claimed to be real Taiwanese laptop maker Quanta Computer.
The emails were designed to look like they originated from Quanta executives. They asked that payments for services carried out by the real Quanta be sent to bank accounts—which Rimasauskas operated—based in Latvia, Cyprus, Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary, and Hong Kong. He also forged contracts and documents to make them look like they were signed by Google and Facebook executives. These were handed over to the banks to support the wire transfers.
Rimasauskas founded a company called Quanta Computer in Latvia to make the emails appear more convincing. The plan worked: Google handed over $23 million, while Facebook was conned out of $99 million. Rimasauskas was extradited to the US in August 2017.
“Rimasauskas thought he could hide behind a computer screen halfway across the world while he conducted his fraudulent scheme, but as he has learned, the arms of American justice are long, and he now faces significant time in a U.S. prison,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan said in a statement.
Rimasauskas pleaded guilty to one charge of wire fraud in a New York court last week. As part of his plea, he has agreed to return just under $50 million. It’s not known what happened to the rest of the stolen money. He faces up to 30 years in prison when sentenced on July 24, 2019.
A Facebook spokesman said: “Facebook recovered the bulk of the funds shortly after the incident and has been co-operating with law enforcement in its investigation.” Google gave a similar statement: “We detected this fraud and promptly alerted the authorities. We recouped the funds, and we’re pleased this matter is resolved.”