A 50-year-old man from Lithuania has pleaded guilty to scamming Google and Facebook into paying over $120 million for work that never took place.
According to a report in The New York Times on Monday, Evaldas Rimasauskas was involved in running a company that controlled several accounts at banks in Latvia and Cyprus.
Posing as Quanta Computer, a Taiwan-based laptop manufacturer, the phishing scheme netted $23 million from Google in 2013 and $98 million from Facebook in 2015.
“As Evaldas Rimasauskas admitted today, he devised a blatant scheme to fleece US companies out of $100 million, and then siphoned those funds to bank accounts around the globe,” Geoffrey S Berman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.
“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,” Berman was quoted as saying.
Rimasauskas, who was extradited from Lithuania to the US in 2017, faces up to 30 years in prison.
Rimasauskas sent fraudulent phishing emails to agents from Google and Facebook regularly involved in directing business with Quanta.
After the money was wired from Google and Facebook to the bank accounts in Cyprus and Latvia, Rimasauskas “caused the stolen funds to be quickly wired into different bank accounts in various locations throughout the world, including Latvia, Cyprus, Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary and Hong Kong.”
Facebook said in a statement that the company had “recovered the bulk of the funds shortly after the incident and has been cooperating with law enforcement in its investigation.
Google said in a statement to CNET that it had “detected this fraud and promptly alerted the authorities. We recouped the funds and we’re pleased this matter is resolved”.
Rimasauskas is likely to be sentenced on July 24.