Ex-Microsoft employee arrested for stealing over $10M from store credits using a test account

On Tuesday, one of Microsoft’s former employees, Volodymyr Kvashuk, 25, was arrested for attempting to steal $10 million worth of digital currency from Microsoft. “If convicted of mail fraud, the former Microsoft software engineer could face as much as 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine”, The Register reports.

Kvashuk, a Ukranian citizen residing in Renton, Washington was hired by Microsoft in August 2016 as a contractor till June 2018. He was a part of Microsoft’s Universal Store Team (UST) with a duty to handle the company’s e-commerce operations.

Sam Guckenheimer, product owner for Azure DevOps at Microsoft, back in 2017,  said the UST “is the main commercial engine of Microsoft with the mission to bring One Universal Store for all commerce at Microsoft.” He further explained, “The UST encompasses everything Microsoft sells and everything others sell through the company, consumer and commercial, digital and physical, subscription and transaction, via all channels and storefronts“.

According to the prosecution’s complaint report, filed in a US federal district court in Seattle, the UST team was assigned to make simulated purchases of products from the online store to ensure customers could make purchases without any glitches. The test accounts used to make these purchases were linked to artificial payment devices (“Test In Production” or “TIP” cards) that allowed the tester to simulate a purchase without generating an actual charge.

The program was designed to block the delivery of physical goods. However, no restrictions or safeguards were placed to block the test purchases of digital currency i.e. “Currency Stored Value” or “CSV”, which could also be used to buy Microsoft products or services.

Kvashuk fraudulently obtained these CSVs and resold them to third parties, which reaped him over $10,000,000 in CSV and also some property from Microsoft. Kvashuk bought these CSVs by disguising his identity with different false names and statements.

According to The Register,

The scheme supposedly began in 2017 and escalated to the point that Kvashuk, on a base salary of $116,000 per year, bought himself a $162,000 Tesla and $1.6m home in Renton, Washington”.

Microsoft’s UST Fraud Investigation Strike Team (FIST) noticed an unexpected rise in the use of CSV to buy subscriptions to Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system in February 2018. By tracing the digital funds, the investigators found out that these were resold on two different websites, to two whitelisted test accounts.

FIST then traced the accounts and transactions involved. With the assistance of the US Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service, investigators concluded that Kvashuk had defrauded Microsoft. Kvashuk had also a Bitcoin mixing service to hide his public blockchain transactions.

“In addition to service provider records that point to Kvashuk, the complaint notes that Microsoft’s online store uses a form of device fingerprinting called a Fuzzy Device ID. Investigators, it’s claimed, linked a specific device identifier to accounts associated with Kvashuk”, according to The Register.

One of the users on HackerNews mentions, “There are two technical interesting takeaways in this:

1 – Microsoft, and probably most big companies, have persistent tracking ID on most stuff that is hard to get rid of and can be used to identify you and devices linked to you in a fuzzy way. I mean, we know about super cookies, fingerprinting and such, but it’s another to hear it being used to track somebody that was careful and using multiple anonymous accounts.

2 – BTC mixers will not protect you. Correlating one single wallet with you will make it possible to them retrace the entire history.

To know about this news in detail, head over to the prosecution’s complaint.

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*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Security News – Packt Hub authored by Savia Lobo. Read the original post at: