The man who scammed $23 million from the US Department of Defense

That you use a phishing scam through WhatsApp and manage to take 100 dollars from someone, is something that happens daily with the thousands of attempts to scam using this old cybercrime technique, as veteran as the Internet itself. But the fact that you use the phishing system to steal no less than 23.5 million dollars from the very Department of Defense of the United States of America, is already something a ‘little’ bigger than the normal phishing scam.

“We have spared no expense”

If we take a look at this graphwe will see that from the year 1990 until now, the nations of China, the Soviet Union / Russia and the United States have done nothing but increase their Defense budgets -curiously the United States has had fluctuations depending on who sat in the presidency, but its ‘budget’ has always been much higher than that of any other country in the world.

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To get an idea of ​​what the US spends on defense, the 2020 budget was 721 billion dollars; in 2021 was 705 billion $; and in 2022 is being $740 billion -and to that we will have to add the uncalculated contingencies such as the one that is causing the war in Ukraine and Russia -although the Russians continue without wanting to call it a ‘war’, but rather a ‘special operation’ on the ground.

Summed up in the wonderful line from the patriotic Independence Day of “You don’t think they spend $50,000 on a hammer, or $30,000 on a toilet bowl?”, each expense of the North American defense network seems to be said by the John Hammond of Jurassic Park: “We have spared no expense.”

Sercan Oyuntur

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced the conviction of Sercan Oyunturage 40, and a California resident, on multiple counts related to a phishing operation that caused a loss of 23.5 million dollars to the Department of Defense of the United States (DoD)”.

The scammer got divert DoD funds intended for a jet fuel supplier to your personal bank account -such an amount of money just for fuel for the planes of the US defense network is another indication of its gigantic military budget. Following an eight-day trial in Camden, California, Oyuntur was found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire, mail, and bank fraud, unauthorized access to devices, aggravated identity theft, and making false statements to federal law enforcement officers. .

jet fuel

according to pray the criminal complaint against Oyuntur 2019, the phishing fraud damages occurred in September 2018. This is how the US DoD money was made:

  1. Oyuntur and his co-conspirators register the domain “”, very similar to the legitimate “”, and use it to send phishing emails.
  2. These emails are sent to users of SAM or System for Award Management – a supplier database in which companies that want to do business with the Federal Government are registered.
  3. The phishing messages carry links to a cloned “” website, in which the victim providers enter their account data, unknowingly exposing it to Oyuntur.
  4. In at least one confirmed case, Oyuntur breaks into one of the stolen accounts that belonged to a Southeast Asian company that had 11 active fuel supply contracts for the US military at the time.
  5. One of these contracts has a value of 23,453,350 dollars with a pending payment for supplying 10,080,000 gallons (45824587 liters) of jet fuel to the US Department of Defense.
  6. By entering the SAM database as the affected company, Oyuntur deliberately modifies the registered banking information, substituting the foreign account for one over which he has control, and therefore can directly manipulate the official Defense funds received.

falsified car bills

At that time, the EBS servers of the Department of Defense had a security system that scanned the SAM database every 24 hours checking for changes in bank accounts and blocking payments on outstanding invoices that met specific risk criteria. The conspirators encountered this problem after the bank account change and resorted to calling the DLA (Defense Logistics Agency), giving false explanations, and requesting manual approval of the financial information changes.

This maneuver works out well for the perpetrators, since in October 2018 the payment goes ahead. Oyuntur and his team make use of falsified invoices of car sales from a dealer to falsify a source apparently legitimate for the hefty sum.

According to the United States Department of Justice:

“As part of his involvement in the scheme, Oyuntur worked closely with another co-conspirator, Hurriyet Arslan, who owned a used car dealership, Deal Automotive Sales, in Florence, New Jersey. Arslan opened an independent shell company based in New Jersey to use in the criminal scheme, obtained a mobile phone number for the shell company, hired someone else to pose as the owner of the shell company, and opened a bank account. in the name of the fictitious company.

The mismatch that uncovered it all

But this was where the criminals made the worst mistake, the one that would destabilize everything, since the dealer chosen and used in their criminal scheme was not a government contractor and was not registered with SAMso the transaction was still a mismatch for existing automated checking systems.

As a result, an investigation was launched that uncovered all the steps of the fraud, identifying one of the Oyuntur conspirators, Hurriyet Arslan, the owner of the dealership, and reversing the transaction. Arslan pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering in January 2020 and is scheduled to be sentenced this summer.

As for the main protagonist of the storySercan Oyuntur faces a potential maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million. or double the gross profits from the losses resulting from your crimes. No sentencing date has yet been set, but what is certain is that he will go to jail for stealing from Uncle Sam. The question is for how long.

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