FBI’s Worst Nightmare Finally Caught

published on July 13, 2020

As technology and computers revolutionize themselves at the turn of the 21st century so did black hat wearing hackers no hacker of this era has a tail more enthralling more topsy-turvy and more morally divisive than that of Ukrainian

Tech whiz Maksim Popov after voluntarily turning himself over to the authorities and picturing a free life in America as a security expert the FBI blindsided him then following years of collaboration jail time and FBI success stories Maxim

Threw a curve ball of his own taking an innocent agent down in the process his targets bled Millions and his schemes were so widespread and intricate that even the top detectives remained fooled turns out that this mole was never

Really a mole as a youngster growing up in the ukrainian city of Zhytomyr two hours west of kiev it didn't take long before Maksim Popov was finding his feet in the computer world he mastered the technical basics by using the school

Computers while Americans were learning on the IBM XT Maxim was developing his skills on a Kiev based company clone called the poisk one he was obsessed with cyberpunk fiction and re-watched the 1995 movie hackers with Angelina

Jolie more times than he could count through his teenage years Maxim's mantra became obvious he was going to be a computer hacker and he was planning to make a lot of money while doing so it wasn't until Maxim's father bought him

His very own PC as a 15 year old that he could put his fascination and vision into practice legitimate tech jobs were few and far between while computer savvy young programmers were aplenty this imbalance led to

Hordes of young hackers with Maxim Popov at the core while not the most technically talented hacker out there by any means Maxim combine the skills he did master with a social edge he had an insatiable talent for manipulating

People his first target stolen credit card numbers he would call up American's cell phone and computer retailers put on a near-perfect accent and then direct the companies that cash out the accounts directly to him this worked like a charm

For a while however retailers eventually saw a pattern emerge with Eastern European shipping addresses so the opportunities dried up from there it was a transition into the extortion game

Working with a crew Maxim would break into well-known American based companies digital frameworks steal their data and then approach them with an offering credit card data from 38,000 customers of Imani a former electronic payment

Provider now sat in Maxim's pocket then another 16,000 dossiers of personal information were ransacked from Western Union with this data at his disposal Maxim contacted the companies and offered to put a stop to the intrusions

And destroy the stolen information on one condition they hire him as their security consultant which typically came with fees of anywhere between fifty thousand and five hundred thousand American dollars Imani didn't just sit

Back and allow themselves to be taken advantage of they were secretly in contact with the FBI while the whole ordeal was going down and were stringing Maksim along as the authorities added to their pile of investigative material

Meanwhile tensions in Zhytomyr were rising as was the threat of violence so maxim formed a bold idea to move to America turn himself in to the FBI voluntarily take a slap on the wrist as punishment and work in tandem with the

Authorities as a computer security expert rather than work against them then he could transition into his own internet startup company and bring in the big bucks he'd been in contact with the American

Authorities up to this point and they were on board coming across as friendly and cooperative he did get on the plane to the US and he did intend to work with the FBI but they had other ideas as soon as he set foot on American soil that was

Clear that the arrangement had been altered and there was nothing that Maxim an emitted criminal could do the FBI threw maxim into a small isolation room they presented a choice option a Maxim could become an FBI informant working

Around the clock to lure his former criminal partners into a sticky FBI trap or option B Maksim could go to jail without much wiggle room he cooperated with the FBI over the next 24 hours in a test environment they instructed him to

Talk to his friends in Russian online chat rooms while the FBI monitored every message however max was only pretending to cooperate in reality he was interweaving Russian colloquialisms into his messages to warn his associates that

He was now an American government mole three months later the translations made their way onto the desks of the FBI agents who quickly realized that vey this had been played for fools Maxim was

Taken out of his safe house and thrown into a small County Jail to face charges for his past cyber crimes while all of this was taking place computer hacking in the wider world was only increasing the volume of spam and phishing emails

Was increasing credit-card fraud was escalating 2001 served as a key turning point with the debut of a hacking web site called Carter Planet not only was this ominous underground property of thieves paradise for buying and selling

Stolen credit card numbers passwords bank account details and identities and as this site gained notoriety it caught the eye of an up-and-coming FBI Computer Crimes agent from the Santa Ana California office

Ernest EJ Hilbert agent Hilbert was well aware that having a native Russian speaker and experienced cyber thief on his side could be the master stroke that could unravel this entire website and bring in far more seasoned cyber

Criminals so in order to sway pop up to join FBI so-called intelligence gathering mission Hilbert needed to do two things one assure him that this time the FBI was not intending for pop off to rat on his friends and two he needed a

Stroke Popov ziggo saying things like hmm I truly respect your skill set those factors was enough to get the Ukrainian on board as much as Maxim detested the idea of working for the FBI it was a sight for sore eyes compared to the

Inside of a jail cell every day Hilbert and another agent would collect Popov keep him shackled and handcuffed as they led him to their car and then drove to a nearby office building decked out with desks and a handful of Windows computers

And a Cyrillic keyboard this routine soon became known as operation ant city during which Popov who now had a new digital identity would hang out in underground European chat rooms and post about Carter planet in the eyes of the

Digital underworld this guy was a big-time Ukrainian scammer who wanted nothing more than stolen credit cards and lots of them pop off his first scalp was a mysterious Ukrainian hacker known only as script the pair spoke online

Eventually agreeing on a deal this mystery hacker named Dennis pin house who was actually Maksim Popov working with the FBI would buy $400 worth of stolen credit card numbers from script and script would send them to California

But by mailing the contraband out of the ukrane onto US soil script committed a federal crime in US jurisdiction which helped persuade Ukrainian police to arrest him in February of 2003 data processing international or dpi for

Short was hacked leaving the information of 8 million credit cards exposed as Popov search for answers into the DPI hacking he came across a 21 year old Russian student called re s re s claimed that he knew

The three hackers responsible and was willing to negotiate a deal so Popov kept digging he offered to buy all eight million cards for $200,000 however up until this point he'd only made small purchases and re s

Didn't believe for a second that Popov actually had $200,000 in his bank account fortunately agent Hilbert came up with a solution he pop off and an entourage of FBI agents were shuttled to a nearby bank that had agreed to

Cooperate with the scheme in a hidden back room bank staff brought out two hundred thousand dollars in hundred-dollar bills from the vault and placed it on a table with cameras rolling

Popoff rifled through the wads of cash and explained in phrases in Russian which translated into things like look I'm showing you the dough and I'm showing it to you at point-blank range the video worked like a charm

Popov knew that all Eastern European hackers really wanted was a job as a thank-you gesture for completing the deal Popov directed re s to apply for a company that Popov allegedly worked for

Which was fake and set up by the FBI of course arias applied using his real name and just like that the FBI had all it needed in total the operation had removed four hundred thousand stolen credit cards from the black market and

Alerted over 700 companies that they'd been breached by Eastern European hackers adding up to millions of dollars worth of foiled scams throughout all of these ploys Popov an agent Hilbert developed a rather strong bond on one

Thanksgiving Day rather than spend another 10 hours solving cyber crimes Hilbert surprised his hacker with a projector a Lord of the Rings DVD and a complete Thanksgiving meal they trusted one another after eight months behind

Bars and working on operation ant city Popov was released the FBI rented him a place on the beach in Santa Ana but he couldn't adjust to life in suburban California so a judge granted him permission to visit Ukraine

Provided that he returned to California shortly after to serve out the remainder of his supervised release agent Hilbert drove pop off to the airport and said goodbye knowing full well that he wouldn't see the cunning hacker again

Taking advantage of the strong relationship that the pair had formed Popoff began feeding Hilbert a steady stream of tips on the basis of good faith while back in Ukraine one of these tips led Hilbert to a Russian hacker

Gang called X point two-five this group had hacked companies like AT&T but also hacked the FBI itself thanks to Popoff's help agent Hilbert had found the man responsible an engineering student in saint-petersburg

Named Leonid evil Sokolov Hilbert taught Sokoloff to admit the wrongdoings but then it fell apart in an instant in reality these good faith tips were part of a larger plan a blackhat plan Popov was working together with x point two

Five and Sokolov x point two five would hack and then Maxim would come in and save the day for a hefty fee at the company's expense of course all while throwing around the FBI agent Hilbert's name as someone who could vouch for his

Credibility in essence Popoff was now sabotaging the FBI from the inside for the 18 t job alone Maxim Popoff was asking for a hundred and fifty thousand dollars back in the us Hilbert was under investigation on suspicion of

Conspiracy fraud against the government and leaking confidential law-enforcement information at the end of this roller coaster Maxim Popov still views hilbert as a friend saying quote he was the only friend I had I'm still a black hat and I

Never changed but who cares I still love him end quote can you ever trust a criminal share your thoughts down in the comments below don't forget to like this video subscribe to the channel and as always thank you so much for checking

Out the richest we'll see you next time have a great day you

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