A Ukrainian computer hacker has become the first to plead guilty to what U.S. authorities called the biggest hacking scheme ever to game global markets, reaping $100 million in illegal profits.
Vadym Iermolovych, 28, of Kyiv, on May 16 joined three financial traders in admitting they hacked into thousands of corporate news releases before they were published, and used the stolen information to make money through illegal insider trades on top company stocks.
Three hackers and seven traders, many with ties to Russia, have been charged by U.S. prosecutors for stealing unpublished news releases from Business Wire, Marketwired, and PR Newswire between February 2010 to August 2015.
Authorities say the traders gave the hackers "shopping lists" of releases they wanted to see in advance, including ones with market-sensitive financial results, and then traded the stocks, including Caterpillar, Home Depot, Las Vegas Sands, and Panera Bread.
The hackers were routinely paid a cut of the profits.
Iermolovych, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit computer hacking, and aggravated identity theft, faces up to 20 years in prison.
Other accused hackers include Ukrainians Oleksandr Ieremenko and Ivan Turchynov. Their whereabouts are not known.