The U.S. Department of Justice has charged a Russian citizen living in the U.S. with hacking into hacking into brokerage firms and causing approximately $1 million in losses.

"Petr Murmylyuk, 31, who lived in New York, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, unauthorized access to computers and securities fraud, according to the U.S. District Attorney's Office in New Jersey," writes Computerworld's Jeremy Kirk. "If convicted, Murmylyuk could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine."

"According to the complaint filed in Newark federal court, Murmylyuk worked with others to hack into, and execute fraudulent trades, on online accounts at brokerage firms Charles Schwab, E-Trade, Fidelity, and Scottrade," writes ZDNet's Emil Protalinski.

"One version of the fraud involved causing the victims' accounts to sell options contracts to the profit accounts, then to purchase the same contracts back minutes later for up to nine times the price," writes Network World's Michael Cooney. "In another version of the fraud, they used the profit accounts to offer short sales of securities at prices well over market price and to force the victim accounts to make irrational purchases."

"The Manhattan District Attorney's office has also charged Murmylyuk with using a sham jobs placement website to steal the identities of more than 300 people, using them to generate more than $450,000 in fraudulent tax refunds," writes Ars Technica's Dan Goodin. "Because many of the people using the site were unemployed, they were less likely to have reported earned income, allowing Murmylyuk to file tax returns in their names without arousing suspicion."

"If convicted of the charges laid against him by the Manhattan district attorney, [Murmylyuk] could be sentenced to 15 years in prison," writes Help Net Security's Zeljka Zorz.

"Filing fake tax returns, in particular, is a growing problem," notes The New York Times' Russ Buettner. "In January, the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department announced that a law enforcement sweep through 23 states had revealed the potential theft of thousands of identities and taxpayer refunds."