Russian man charged with stealing Americans’ identities as part of election interference efforts

The charges announced Thursday in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, against Artem Mikhaylovich Lifshits, 27, of St. Petersburg, Russia, were part of the US government’s public response against Russians who the US says are involved in the Russian election interference operation.

The Treasury Department announced sanctions against Lifshits and two others allegedly part of what the US named Project Lakhta, the Russian-based effort to conduct political and electoral influence in the US ahead of the November elections.

The Trump administration said that the so-called Project Lakhta has been working since 2014 to disrupt and sow distrust of the US political system and against candidates for public office. The project concealed its work through groups such as the Internet Research Agency, whose members were charged with crimes by special counsel Robert Mueller. Lifshits allegedly worked as a manager for the Translator Department, which was responsible for much of the Russian project’s ongoing influence operations, according to Justice Department prosecutors.

Lifshits is believed to be in Russia and CNN couldn’t locate him to seek comment.

Prosecutors alleged that Lifshits and others stole the identities of real Americans to open bank and cryptocurrency accounts, which were used to conduct the Russian operation and for his own personal benefit.

The criminal charges don’t include any allegations of Americans knowingly participating in the Russian influence operation, the Justice Department said.

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