Darknet Carding Kingpin Pleads Guilty: Sold Financial Info of Tens of Thousands

Cyber Security

May 18, 2023Ravie LakshmananCyber Crime / Payment Security

A U.S. national has pleaded guilty in a Missouri court to operating a darknet carding site and selling financial information belonging to tens of thousands of victims in the country.

Michael D. Mihalo, aka Dale Michael Mihalo Jr. and ggmccloud1, has been accused of setting up a carding site called Skynet Market that specialized in the trafficking of credit and debit card data.

Mihalo and his associates also peddled their warez on other dark web marketplaces such as AlphaBay Market, Wall Street Market, and Hansa Market between February 22, 2016, and October 1, 2019.

“Mihalo assembled and directed the team that helped him sell this stolen financial information on the darknet,” the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a press statement released on May 16, 2023.

“Mihalo personally possessed, sent, and received the information associated with 49,084 stolen payment cards with the intent that the payment card information would be trafficked on darknet sites, all in furtherance of the conspiracy.”

One of the defendant’s accomplices, Taylor Ross Staats, worked as a “card checker,” ensuring that the financial information being sold is still valid and had not been canceled by the respective financial institutions.

Staats is estimated to have earned at least $21,000 worth of Bitcoin for these services. He pleaded guilty on December 14, 2022, to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud for this role in the operation. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Mihalo, a 40-year-old Illinois native, raked in more than $1 million worth of cryptocurrencies from the schemes, the Justice Department added.

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The defendant has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, which carries a maximum prison term of five years, as well as one count of access device fraud and six counts of money laundering, each of which carry up to 10 years of jail time. He has also been ordered to forfeit all the illicit proceeds.

Earlier this month, U.S. authorities also shut down Try2Check, a popular Russian platform that was used by cybercriminals to confirm the legitimacy of stolen credit card information.

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