Lithuanian to be extradited to US for $100 million email fraud

Evaldas Rimasauskas was arrested in March for an email fraud scheme in which he swindled two American companies – reportedly Facebook and Google – out of more than $100 million. A Lithuanian court ruled he could be his extradited to the US.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Suspected Lithuanian hacker Evaldas Rimasauskas is seen before a court session in Vilnius, Lithuania, Thursday. May 18, 2017.

A Lithuanian accused of swindling Facebook and Google out of more than $100 million through an email fraud scheme must be extradited to the United States to stand trial, a court in Vilnius ruled on Monday.

Evaldas Rimasauskas denies the allegations and will appeal against the decision to a higher court, his lawyer said.

According to a US indictment made public in March, Rimasauskas is charged with wire fraud and money laundering, which each carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, and identify theft, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years.

Rimasauskas has been in custody since March at the request of US prosecutors.

"Material presented to the court provides enough evidence to think that Rimasauskas could have committed the deeds that he is accused of," judge Aiva Surviliene said as he read the verdict.

Rimasauskas to appeal

But his lawyer, Snieguole Uzdanaviciene, said the evidence provided by US prosecutors was too vague and would not be considered evidence in a Lithuanian court.

She also called for Rimasauskas to be investigated in Lithuania rather than the United States.

"We are talking about a Lithuanian citizen, and material presented to the court describe him as acting on Lithuanian territory, not elsewhere, and using means and tools which were within territory of Lithuania," she said.

The US indictment did not name the companies involved, but Uzdanaviciene told reporters Facebook and Google were both mentioned in the US extradition request. The Lithuanian court decided against making the request public.

Prosecutors claim that Rimasauskas started his fraudulent activities around 2013 when he registered a company in Latvia with the same name as an Asian computer hardware manufacturer. 

The alleged scheme is an example of a growing type of fraud called "business email compromise," in which fraudsters ask for money using emails targeted at companies that work with foreign suppliers or regularly make wire transfers.