By Karen Zautyk
The three young men, pictured above in their Kearny High School yearbook photos, had their whole lives ahead of them.
Who knew where the future would take them? No one would have guessed that, a bit more than a decade later, it would take them into a Manhattan courtroom, where they would be charged in connection with an international cybertheft ring.
Last week, Laurence Brinkmeyer, 29, Bryan Caputo, 29, and Daniel Petryszyn, 28 – all members of KHS Class of 2003 – were indicted on charges of money laundering and criminal possession of stolen property.
Caputo and Petryszyn were arrested and arraigned last Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court. Brinkmeyer was in court Friday after he voluntarily returned to the U.S. from Aruba, where, according to published reports, he had been on his honeymoon.
All three have pleaded not guilty.
Bail was set at $2 million for Petryszyn; $1 million for Brinkmeyer, and $500,000 for Caputo.
Sources told The Observer that the trio had grown up together in Kearny, where Caputo still lives. According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Petryszyn currently resides in New York City. The office would identify Brinkmeyer’s place of residence only as Bergen County, but he is thought to have a North Arlington address.
The three were among six individuals indicted in connection with a cybercrime ring that allegedly illegally accessed more than 1,600 user accounts on StubHub, a website where users can buy and sell tickets to various entertainment and sporting events.
According to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the ring was able to “steal personal identifying information, use victims’ credit cards to make fraudulent electronic ticket purchases [with a reported value of $1.6 million] and transfer the proceeds through a global network of accomplices in the United States, United Kingdom, Russia and Canada.”
The local trio apparently are suspects only in the resale of stolen tickets, not in the hacking of the StubHub accounts.
Defendants and Russian nationals Vadim Polyakov, 30, and Nikolay Matveychuk, 21, are accused of using information from StubHub accounts and stolen credit card numbers to buy “more than 3,500 e-tickets that were then sent to individuals in New York and New Jersey to be resold within hours of an event.”
Those events ranged from Marc Anthony and Justine Timberlake concerts to Yankees, Giants, Jets, Knicks and Nets games to the Broadway show “Book of Mormon.”
Petryszyn, Brinkmeyer and Caputo are accused of reselling stolen tickets that they received from Polyakov and his associates.
“As instructed by Polyakov, criminal proceeds from the resale of stolen tickets were divided and directed to multiple PayPal accounts controlled by Polyakov and his associates, as well as multiple bank accounts in the United Kingdom and Germany,” a statement from Vance’s office said.
The statement continued: “One of these bank accounts belonged to Sergei Kirin, 37, a Russian national who advertised his moneylaundering services online. Polyakov directed Petryszyn, Brinkmeyer and Caputo to send payments to Kirin, who retained a percentage of the money as his fee.
“Thousands of dollars were also split into separate payments and sent by wire transfer to other moneylaunderers in London, England and Toronto, Canada.”
After Interpol confirmed that Polyakov was traveling in Spain, he was arrested July 3 outside a Barcelona hotel by Spanish authorities working with U.S. Secret Service agents.
According to a July 24 report from the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, “Matveychuk and Kirin remain in Russia, but the U.S. authorities hope they will be brought to justice.” At press time, no further information was available on their status.
Vance’s office reported that London police, “investigating what they suspect to be the proceeds of criminal activity being laundered through legitimate U.K. bank accounts,” had arrested and were questioning three men.
In Toronto, an additional money-laundering suspect was taken into custody by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Observer readers who saw TV news footage of last week’s arraignment had to notice that one of the defendants appeared in court wearing a bright red T-shirt reading “KEARNY UNITED.” That was Caputo. We contacted representatives of Kearny United, who said they were not aware of any affiliation he might have with the soccer club.