April 18, 2024

The U.S. authorities this week put a $10 million bounty on a Russian man who for the previous 18 years operated Try2Check, one of many cybercrime underground’s most trusted companies for checking the validity of stolen bank card information. U.S. authorities say 43-year-old Denis Kulkov‘s card-checking service made him a minimum of $18 million, which he used to purchase a Ferrari, Land Rover, and different luxurious gadgets.

Denis Kulkov, a.okay.a. “Nordex,” in his Ferrari. Picture: USDOJ.

Launched in 2005, Try2Check quickly was processing greater than one million card-checking transactions monthly — charging 20 cents per transaction. Cybercriminals turned to companies like this after buying stolen bank card information from an underground store, with an eye fixed towards minimizing the variety of playing cards which might be inactive by the point they’re put to felony use.

Try2Check was so dependable that it will definitely grew to become the official card-checking service for a few of the underground’s most bustling crime bazaars, together with Vault Market, Unicc, and Joker’s Stash. Prospects of those carding retailers who selected to make use of the store’s built-in (however a-la-carte) card checking service from Try2Check may anticipate computerized refunds on any playing cards that have been discovered to be inactive or canceled on the time of buy.

Many established stolen card retailers will permit clients to request refunds on useless playing cards based mostly on official experiences from trusted third-party checking companies. However basically, the larger retailers have steered clients towards utilizing their very own white-labeled model of the Try2Check service — primarily to assist reduce disputes over canceled playing cards.

On Wednesday, Could 3, Try2Check’s web sites have been changed with a website seizure discover from the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Division of Justice, as prosecutors within the Eastern District of New York unsealed an indictment and search warrant naming Denis Gennadievich Kulkov of Samara, Russia because the proprietor.

Try2Check’s login pages have been changed with a seizure discover from U.S. regulation enforcement.

On the identical time, the U.S. Division of State issued a $10 million reward for info resulting in the arrest or conviction of Kulkov. In November 2021, the State Division started providing as much as to $10 million for the identify or location of any key leaders of REvil, a significant Russian ransomware gang.

As famous within the Secret Service’s felony criticism (PDF), the Try2Check service was first marketed on the closely-guarded Russian cybercrime discussion board Mazafaka, by somebody utilizing the deal with “KreenJo.” That deal with used the identical ICQ instantaneous messenger account quantity (555724) as a Mazafaka denizen named “Nordex.”

In February 2005, Nordex posted to Mazafaka that he was available in the market for hacked financial institution accounts, and provided 50 p.c of the take. He requested companions to contact him on the ICQ quantity 228427661 or on the electronic mail handle [email protected]. As the federal government famous in its search warrant, Nordex exchanged messages with discussion board customers on the time figuring out himself as a then-24-year-old “Denis” from Samara, RU.

In 2017, U.S. regulation enforcement seized the cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, and the Secret Service stated these information present {that a} Denis Kulkov from Samara provided the username “Nordexin,” electronic mail handle [email protected], and an handle in Samara.

Investigators had already discovered Instagram accounts the place Kulkov posted photos of his Ferrari and his household. Authorities have been in a position to establish that Kulkov had an iCloud account tied to the handle [email protected], and upon subpoenaing that discovered passport images of Kulkov, and effectively as extra images of his household and dear vehicles.

Like many different high cybercriminals based mostly in Russia or in nations with favorable relations to the Kremlin, the proprietor of Try2Check was not significantly tough to hyperlink to a real-life id. In Kulkov’s case, it little doubt was vital to U.S. investigators that that they had entry to a wealth of non-public info tied to a cryptocurrency alternate Kulkov had used.

Nonetheless, the hyperlink between Kulkov and Try2Check will be made — mockingly — based mostly on information which have been plundered by hackers and printed on-line through the years — together with Russian electronic mail companies, Russian authorities information, and hacked cybercrime boards.


Kulkov posing along with his passport, in a photograph authorities obtained by subpoenaing his iCloud account.

In line with cybersecurity agency Constella Intelligence, the handle [email protected] was used to register an account with the username “Nordex” at bankir[.]com, a now defunct information web site that was nearly customary studying for Russian audio system considering information about numerous Russian monetary markets.

Nordex seems to have been a finance nerd. In his early days on the boards, Nordex posted a number of lengthy threads on his views concerning the Russian inventory market and mutual fund investments.

That Bankir account was registered from the Web handle in Samara, Russia, and included Nordex’s date of start as April 8, 1980, in addition to their ICQ quantity (228427661).

Cyber intelligence agency Intel 471 discovered that Web handle additionally was used to register the account “Nordex” on the Russian hacking discussion board Exploit again in 2006.

Constella tracked one other Bankir[.]com account created from that very same Web handle underneath the username “Polkas.” This account had the identical date of start as Nordex, however a distinct electronic mail handle: [email protected]. This and different “nordia@” emails shared a password: “anna59.”


[email protected] shares a number of passwords with [email protected], which Constella says was used to create an account at a non secular web site for an Anna Kulikova from Samara. On the Russian house furnishing retailer Westwing.ru, Ms. Kulikova listed her full identify as Anna Vnrhoturkina Kulikova, and her handle as 29 Kommunistrecheskya St., Apt. 110.

A search on that handle in Constella brings up a file for an Anna Denis Vnrhoturkina Kulkov, and the cellphone quantity 879608229389.

Russian automobile registration information have additionally been hacked and leaked on-line through the years. These information present that Anna’s Apt 110 handle is tied to a Denis Gennadyvich Kulkov, born April 8, 1980.

The automobile Kolkov registered in 2015 at that handle was a 2010 Ferrari Italia, with the license plate quantity K022YB190. The cellphone quantity related to this file — 79608229389 — is strictly like Anna’s, solely minus the (mis?)main “8”. That quantity is also tied to a now-defunct Fb account, and to the e-mail addresses [email protected] and [email protected].

Kulkov’s Ferrari has been photographed quite a few instances through the years by Russian car aficionados, together with this one with the motive force’s face redacted by the photographer:

The Ferrari owned by Denis Kulkov, noticed in Moscow in 2016. Picture: Migalki.internet.

Because the title of this story suggests, the arduous half for Western regulation enforcement isn’t figuring out the Russian cybercriminals who’re main gamers within the scene. Somewhat, it’s discovering inventive methods to seize high-value suspects if and after they do depart the safety that Russia typically extends to home cybercriminals inside its borders who don’t additionally hurt Russian firms or customers, or intervene with state pursuits.

However Russia’s struggle in opposition to Ukraine has prompted main fault traces to seem within the cybercrime underground: Cybercriminal syndicates that beforehand straddled Russia and Ukraine with ease have been pressured to reevaluate many comrades who have been all of the sudden working for The Different Facet.

Many cybercriminals who operated with impunity from Russia and Ukraine previous to the struggle selected to flee these nations following the invasion, presenting worldwide regulation enforcement businesses with uncommon alternatives to catch most-wanted cybercrooks. A kind of was Mark Sokolovsky, a 26-year-old Ukrainian man who operated the favored “Raccoon” malware-as-a-service providing; Sokolovsky was apprehended in March 2022 after fleeing Ukraine’s necessary navy service orders.

Additionally nabbed on the lam final yr was Vyacheslav “Tank” Penchukov, a senior Ukrainian member of a transnational cybercrime group that stole tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars} over practically a decade from numerous hacked companies. Penchukov was arrested after leaving Ukraine to satisfy up along with his spouse in Switzerland.