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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

A Russian computer hacker has been detained on suspicion of extorting $10,000 from a US bank after breaking into its database and threatening to publish account details.

The suspect, identified only as Nikolai, was detained in the western Siberian town of Surgut after Moscow police's computer fraud unit was approached by the US embassy.

According to reports in the Russian press, Nikolai Nikolai broke into the web server of Online Resources Corp, a McLean, Virginia company, which offers internet banking, bill payment and e-finance application services to financial institutions.

Nikolai, a 21-year-old university drop-out, then attempted to extort money from an unnamed New York bank by threatening to publish account details. To buttress the threat, he posted details from 1,500 accounts online. The bank paid out $10,000 in December but estimates its total financial damage at $250,000.

The Moscow computer fraud unit managed to track him by his IP address when he exchanged email addresses with the bank, and he is now in custody facing 15 years jail.

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