The U.S. government announced sanctions Wednesday on two Russian nationals for their role in the theft of at least $16.8 million worth of cryptocurrency.
In the phishing scheme, which was conducted in 2017 and 2018, Danil Potekhin and Dmitrii Karasavidi allegedly created web sites that looked like legitimate currency exchange sites. Victims would enter their information, which was then used to access real accounts.
The two, who were identified by the Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security, then allegedly laundered the stolen cryptocurrencies through multiple virtual currency exchanges using fake profiles.
"The individuals who administered this scheme defrauded American citizens, businesses and others by deceiving them and stealing virtual currency from their accounts," Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement. "The Treasury Department will continue to use our authorities to target cybercriminals and remains committed to the safe and secure use of emerging technologies in the financial sector."
According to the statement, the government seized millions of dollars in virtual currency and U.S. dollars in an account owned by Karasavidi.