Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California
Assistant U. S. Attorney Alexandra F. Foster (619) 546-6735
SAN DIEGO – Kirill Victorovich Firsov, a Russian citizen, was sentenced to 30 months in custody for his role as 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.
The now-defunct online platform DEER.IO started operations as of at least October 2013, and, as of Firsov’s arrest in March 2020, the platform hosted approximately 3,000 active shops with sales exceeding $17 million. Although Firsov maintained that the bulk of the sales on DEER.IO were Russian accounts, the parties agreed that the government could show that shop owners on the DEER.IO platform sold at least $1.2 million in U.S.-based stolen information, to include the gamer accounts identified in the plea agreement.
At sentencing, the prosecutor noted that Firsov built the DEER.IO platform in 2013 and maintained it for almost seven years. Further, the prosecutor asserted that Firsov knew DEER.IO was selling stolen and counterfeit accounts, because he built the platform, which included a number of icons for U.S.-based companies that anyone setting up a store on DEER.IO could click on to then sell stolen accounts from those U.S. companies. Also, DEER.IO was easily searchable, so anyone –including Firsov– could search the platform for stolen U.S. accounts and information. Even though it sold stolen accounts, DEER.IO was not cloaked in secrecy and required no special password for access, because everything was run out of Russia, and American law enforcement could gain no foothold.
DEER.IO sold not only stolen accounts, like the gamer accounts identified in the plea agreement, but also Americans’ personal information, to include names, current addresses, telephone numbers and at times Social Security numbers. On March 4, 2020, the FBI purchased 1,100 gamer accounts, and on March 5, 2020, the FBI purchased the personal information for over 3,600 Americans. On March 7, 2020, Firsov was arrested by the FBI in New York City when he flew into JFK Airport from Moscow.
In sentencing Firsov to 30 months, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant acknowledged that he had been incarcerated in the United States for 15 months, while the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world and, very specifically, the American jail system. She also recognized that Firsov had been incarcerated in the United States, far from his support system of family and friends in Russia. Finally, she noted that once released, Firsov would likely be incarcerated as he underwent deportation proceedings back to Russia. Nonetheless, she noted that without Firsov’s involvement, there would be no DEER.IO, and that facilitated the sale of stolen property on a large scale. Balancing these factors, Judge Bashant sentenced Firsov to 30 months.
“This platform provided cybercriminals with easy access to the personal accounts and information of people around the world, including Americans,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “Stopping that flow of stolen information to criminals is critical to addressing the cybercrime threats facing our country, and we will prosecute those who are responsible.” Grossman commended the excellent work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra F. Foster and the FBI agents on this case.
“The FBI will pursue cyber-criminals across the globe,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner. “Today’s sentence sends a message – conducting criminal activity from outside the United States does not mean you are out of reach. The FBI will identify and pursue criminal actors in the cyber-sphere, regardless of where they operate, and work to bring them to justice in a United States court.”
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: 30 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.
USAO – California, Southern
Press Release Number: CAS21-0524-Firsov