Feeds

FBI sting snares top Russian crackers

Three years at Club Fed

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

A Russian cracker, tricked by the FBI into visiting the US on the pretext of a job interview, has been sentenced to three years in jail.

Vasiliy Gorshkov, 27, was also ordered to pay $690,000 in compensation for his crimes by Federal District Court Judge John Coughenour, who took his family's medical and financial problems into account in sentencing the Russian to serve far less time than the 16 years demanded by prosecutors.

Last October, Gorshkov was convicted of 20 counts of conspiracy, various computer crimes, and fraud against online banks and e-commerce operations. His co-accused, Alexey Ivanov, 20, pleaded guilty in August to similar charges along with five counts of extortion, Reuters reports. He is currently in custody, awaiting sentencing.

The circumstances surrounding the November 2000 arrests of the pair put the spotlight of FBI tactics used in the case and prompted Russia's counterintelligence service, the FSB, to take the unprecedented step of charging FBI Agent Michael Schuler with hacking.

Schuler was praised by US authorities for an elaborate ruse that resulted in the arrests of Gorshkov and Ivanov. The operation arose out of a nationwide FBI investigation into Russian computer intrusions against e-commerce sites, and online banks which identified Gorshkov and Ivanov as prime suspects.

It was suspected the pair cracked into victims' computers to steal credit card information and other financial information, prior to attempting to extort money from the victims with threats to expose the sensitive data to the public or damage the victims' systems. Gorshkov and Ivanov were also suspected of defrauding PayPal through a scheme in which stolen credit cards were used to generate cash and to pay for computer parts.

The FBI lured the two to the US by posing as representatives of the fictional 'Invita' security firm, and offering the dynamic duo good jobs if they could prove their skills.

Of course the Feds set up a box rigged with a key logger and then set the pair to work demonstrating their amazing prowess. When they accessed their machines back home, the Feds recorded the login info, and later returned to root the boxes.

Having placed the pair in handcuffs, the FBI obtained a wealth of evidence from the compromised machines.

All perfectly above-board a judge said, ruling that Russian law does not apply to the agents' actions. Russia disagreed and, anxious to assert its sovereignty, filed a complaint against Schuler to the US Department of Justice.

No further news of that as yet. The case will probably die a quiet death with some form of diplomatic compromises and vague promises from the FBI to work more closely with the Russians in future. ®

Related stories

Russians accuse FBI agent of hacking
US Feds can hack overseas boxes -- judge
FBI hacked Russian hackers
Russian Mafia uses NT flaws to raid Internet banks

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?