The Inquirer-Home

Three men indicted for multi-million dollar cybertheft

Trio used a virus to steal from banks
Thu Jan 24 2013, 10:06
A man behind bars

THE UNITED STATES has indicted three men for a cyber scam that stole millions of dollars from banks using a virus.

The three men are named in a statement from US prosecutors and are accused of infecting organisations including Nasa with their Gozi virus.

Nikita Kuzmin, 25, and a Russian national, has already pleaded guilty to charges, while two others, Mihai Ionut Paunescu, 28, of Romania, and Deniss Calovskis, 27, from Latvia are in the process of being extradited.

From the sounds of it, US prosecutors are unlikely to have sympathy for the trio. "In an information-age update on Willie Sutton, these men allegedly ran a modern-day bank robbery ring, and like Sutton, they targeted banks because that's where the money still is. But as we have seen with increasing frequency, cyber criminals' bank heists require neither a mask nor a gun, just a clever program and an Internet connection," said Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.

"This case should serve as a wake-up call to banks and consumers alike, because cybercrime remains one of the greatest threats we face, and it is not going away any time soon."

The men are accused of creating and using the Gozi virus to infect around one million computers. The undetectable virus would then collate information about user bank account information and send it to a server.

Kuzmin wrote the virus, according to the indictment, while Paunescu provided the 'bulletproof hosting' that stored the information taken.

Calovskis is described as a "co-conspirator" who was hired to write web code that would trick users into thinking that they were legitimately handing over personal information to their bank.

All three defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. µ


Share this:

blog comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to INQ newsletters

Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ

INQ Poll

Happy new year!

What tech are you most looking forward to in 2015