Russian Hacker Pleads Guilty to Administering a Website that Catered to Criminals

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA  – Kirill Victorovich Firsov, a Russian citizen, pleaded guilty in federal court today to a cybercrime, admitting that he was the administrator of a website that catered to cyber criminals by virtually selling items such as stolen credit card information, other personal information and services to be used for criminal activity.

According to the plea agreement, Firsov was well-compensated as the administrator of DEER.IO, an online platform which catered to cyber criminals. DEER.IO was a Russian-based platform that allowed criminals to set up cyber storefronts and sell illegal products or services. DEER.IO started operations as of at least October 2013, and, as of March 2020, had approximately 3,000 shops with sales exceeding $17 million.

DEER.IO offered a turnkey online storefront design and hosting platform, from which cybercriminals could advertise and sell their products, such as harvested credentials, hacked servers, and services, such as assistance performing a panoply of cyber hacking activities.  As detailed above, a criminal could simply “sign up,” “configure wallets to receive funds,” “upload products,” and “get money.”

Once the criminal paid to set up their store on the DEER.IO platform, the site then guided the newly-minted shop owner through an automated set-up to upload the products and services on offer through the shop and configure crypto-currency wallets to collect payments for the purchased products and/or services. A cybercriminal who wanted to sell contraband or offer criminal services through DEER.IO could purchase a storefront directly from the DEER.IO website for 800 Rubles (approximately $12.50) per month. The monthly fee was payable by Bitcoin or a variety of online Russian payment methods such as WebMoney, a Russian based money transfer system similar to PayPal.

The shop owner had the option to purchase a storefront name linked to DEER.IO or one its subdomains, like DEER.ST, DEER.IS or DEER.EE (e.g., https://[SHOP NAME].deer.io, such as ONLYFB.DEER.IO, SHIKISHOP.DEER.IO and SELLACCSS.DEER.IS), or a custom name (e.g., https://[SHOP NAME], such as SQLBAZAR.SHOP and ISIS.RENTS.HOUSE), which directed the prospective buyer to the storefront infrastructure hosted on DEER.IO.

A cybercriminal who wanted to purchase from storefronts on the DEER.IO website could use a web browser to navigate to the DEER.IO domain, which contained a search function that allowed individuals to search a catalog for specific items or browse popular storefronts containing items to purchase. Any purchases were conducted using cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, or through Russian-based money transfer systems. For example, as reflected above, a cybercriminal could purchase stolen Uber accounts with associated credit card information from SHIKISHOP.DEER.IO.  To make these purchases, the prospective buyer just needed to click on the cart on the right-hand side of the screen.

An initial scan through DEER.IO storefronts revealed thousands of compromised accounts posted for sale, including Personally Identifiable Information (PII) files containing full U.S. Social Security Numbers, dates of birth and victim addresses. Many of these victims were located in Europe and the United States, including victims in San Diego.

Firsov is set for sentencing before Judge Cynthia Bashant on April 12, 2021.

“This was one-stop shopping for criminals,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “Cybercrime is one of the most pervasive threats facing our country. Data is being stolen and sold on the Dark Web every day, and we are devoting significant resources to combatting this serious problem.” Brewer commended the excellent work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra F. Foster and the FBI agents on this case.

“The internet allows cybercriminals and our adversaries to attack Americans in new and unexpected ways.  Therefore, the FBI is constantly pivoting to staying ahead of the evolving nature of cyber threats,” said Suzanne Turner, Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s San Diego Field Office.  “The seizure of the DEER.IO website and conviction of Firsov is an example of the FBI cyber program’s investigative prowess and jurisdictional reach in order to identify, locate and bring to justice anyone who attempts to profit from harm to U.S. persons, businesses and infrastructure.”

If victimized in a cyber security incident, the FBI encourages companies to immediately contact the FBI.  Specialized cyber agents will work with companies to protect company information and the personal data of its customers. Please contact the FBI San Diego’s cyber program by calling our field office at (858) 320-1800 or submitting tips at Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

DEFENDANT                                            Case Number 20cr1182-BAS

Kirill Victorovich Firsov                             Age:     29                      Moscow, Russia

SUMMARY OF CHARGE

Unauthorized Solicitation of Access Devices (18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(6))

Maximum Penalty: Ten years in prison, $250,000 fine.

INVESTIGATING AGENCY

FBI