Articles Tagged with Internet crime

Throughout his career, thirty year old Michael Gerard Stavris II worked in the company of children. Since he was sixteen years old, beginning in the year 2000, Stavris worked for the school system in Flagler County. He was an instructor of activities and safety for kids in grade eight and lower. He remained at that position through 2006. He also worked for the Duval County school system in Jacksonville during 2009 and 2010 as a patrol officer with responsibilities of reacting to calls on a city-wide basis after regular school hours had ended. He joined the Bunnell Police Department in 2011 and held the rank of corporal.

The Palm Coast police officer was arrested this week and charged with one count of criminal use of personal identification information stemming from the theft of the identity of a 16-year-old girl. He was also charged with two counts of child exploitation and computer pornography violations under the child exploitation prevention act according to Gretl Plessinger a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). All charges are third-degree felonies. A conviction for these offenses carries a sentence of five years in prison.

The arrest was made by the FDLE at the Bunnell City Hall and took place after the conclusion of a three month investigation which was initiated when a teenaged boy complained to a police officer about Stavris’ interaction with him late last year.

Part of the complaint points out that Stavris utilized the social media site Facebook to lure unsuspecting teenage boys into sexual conversations beginning in November of 2012. He did so by becoming their Facebook friends, posing as a teenage girl. After interaction with one of the new friends began, he went as far as sending a picture of a young girl’s breasts, asking the boy to send him pictures of his genitalia in return and saying “maybe” we could meet. The young boy responded by saying “Later when you show me your stuff,” but did not send back a picture. Currently, it is unknown if that meeting ever occurred between the two

Also uncovered through the investigation was another instance when Stavris asked another youth if he could send him a picture of himself getting oral sex through Facebook’s messaging system. The boy’s reply was “*IDK (*I don’t know) if I can get a girl that would let me take a pic doin that to me lol but your bi?” to which Stavris answered “Ya and I know u got pics in your phone of other giels (**sic)” There were additional references about meeting underage male students behind the school to participate in oral sex, and pictures requested of student’s genitals and those of them masturbating.

Stavris purportedly admitted to the FDLE that he did set up the bogus Facebook account and made contact with boys between the ages of 14 and 16 who attended Flagler Palm Coast High School and Buddy Taylor Middle School.

The arrest of the eight year veteran of law enforcement took place on the evening of March twenty-fifth.

After being processed he was released on $125,000 bail and let go from the Flagler County Detention Facility. Stavris is a big man at 6’3″ and weighing in at about 400 pounds. After his release, he couldn’t be reached for comment relating to the allegations, but has been placed on leave from the Department without pay.

By observing his Facebook account, the investigation uncovered that Stavris had more than 40 students under the age of eighteen listed as Facebook friends. A group of them were from Flagler Palm Coast High School, the same school he graduated from in 2002.

At least six students from Flagler County were mentioned in the affidavit as being targets or victims of Stavris and the FDLE made a public plea for anyone having any further information about any other persons that may have been victimized by him to get in touch with them by telephone.

Dennis Bustle, of the law enforcement agency’s Jacksonville office was quoted as saying “We will do everything in our power to see that all potential victims are identified and this person is charged with each crime that’s committed.”

Tom Foster, 57, who is Stavris’ boss and the Police Chief of the Bunnell Police Department, said that he was disappointed to find out about the alleged actions of one of his officers. But he went on to state that no single officer’s actions is a reflection on the entire department. Foster has only served as chief since early February. He was previously a veteran of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office where he served for over thirty years. Bunnell County is the governmental center or county seat of Flagler County.

Although the evidence and allegations may seem overwhelming, Stavris does have at least one person who believes in his innocence. Sherry Blevins, who may soon be his mother-in-law, asserted that Stavris is being framed. Presently, he is engaged to marry her daughter. Ms. Blevins was quoted as saying “I tell you this was all prompted when him and the ex-girlfriend broke up and he wouldn’t take her back.” She maintains his innocence proposing that he is being set up by a rejected ex-girlfriend.

To view the redacted arrest report, click here.

**sic: the quotation has been transcribed exactly as found in the original source, complete with any erroneous or archaic spelling or other nonstandard presentation.
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He went by the screen name “Eskalibur” which was used in his role of making online transactions at meeting places for thieves located in cyberspace. The criminal enterprise’s name on the Internet was known as the Western Express Cybercrime Group and Eskalibur was one of its ringleaders. He was personally responsible for the trafficking and sale of approximately 75,000 credit card account numbers in a fraud that would bear fruit to a tune of over a $4 million in proceeds. With two others, who lived in the United States, the trio was accountable for over 95,000 stolen and forged credit card accounts and another million dollars in profits building to a grand total of over $5 million in cybercrime earnings.

Egor Shevelev a/k/a Eskalibur, 27 was safe from prosecution. Living in Kiev in the Ukraine, there was no way US law enforcement was able to apprehend him. However in 2008, he decided to spend some of his ill-gotten gains and take a vacation to Greece. It was there on the Island of Rhodes that Greek law enforcement apprehended him after the issuance of an international arrest request. Shortly after, Ukrainian authorities executed a search warrant of his apartment, finding evidence that allowed Greek officials to detain him in preparation for extradition back to New York State on July 2, 2010 for the cybercrime of identity theft and the global trafficking of stolen and forged credit card accounts.

The two Americans who lived in United States were easier to apprehend and arrest. Douglas Latta, 40 whose online handle was “Realbusy” and Anna Ciano, 41, a/k/a “Angela Perez,” were both picked up in the Brooklyn, New York apartment they shared.
Along with Shevelev, the three were indicted and found guilty by a jury of all charges listed in the Indictment in New York State Supreme Court, after a ten-week trial in August of this year.

Shevelev operated his part in the scheme out of his apartment in Kiev. He was among five other men of Eastern European descent who were listed in the Indictment that was originally filed in 2009, where the case was prosecuted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. The ring as stated operated a carding forum on the Internet by the name of the International Association for the Advancement of Criminal Activity. Thieves interacted in stolen credit card activities as well as other transactions in violation of law. They also purportedly forged credit cards using the hijacked numbers, turning them into cash with the unsuspecting, innocent assistance of eBay shoppers.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. made the announcements of the extradition, Indictment and the results of the trial. After the indictment was revealed Vance said “The extradition and indictment of this defendant bring us a step closer to apprehending the members of an international identity theft ring. This Office is committed to shutting down criminal operations that traffic in stolen information used to steal identities and illegally acquire money.”

After the verdict by the jury was made public, Vance was quoted as saying “It was a highly profitable scheme that netted the principals millions of dollars. I am pleased that these defendants have been sentenced to prison sentences appropriate to the scope and breadth of their misconduct.”

Aside from the results of this trial four others included in the 173-count Indictment were Dzimitry Burak, aka “Graph,” 30, a native of Belarus who like Shevelev was living in the Ukraine, Oleg Kovelin (Covelin), aka “DoZ,” 32, from Moldova, and Vladimir Kramarenko, aka “Envisor,” 35, a Moldovan national, as well as Viatcheslav Vasilyev, aka “The Viver,” 37 from the Czech Republic. Kramarenko and Vasilyev were arrested in July 2008 in Prague and subsequently extradited to the U.S. the following year.

According to officials, the five Eastern European men, worked in line with seventeen other accused individuals who were named in the November 2007 indictment, as well as a company based in New York called Western Express International Inc. WEI was managed by an additional defendant named Vadim Vassilenko, which authorities say was used to coordinate and facilitate the illegal activities and launder the ring’s ill-gotten gains.

Vasilyev and Kramarenko previously pleaded guilty. Burak and Kovelin (Covelin) still remain fugitives to this point, avoiding capture.

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