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Extradition ruled out in bookie extortion case

Leave it the Russians, say UK cybercops

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UK authorities have no plans to seek the extradition of alleged members of a Russian cyber extortion gang suspected of launching series of debilitating attacks that cost British bookmakers tens of millions in lost revenues.

Three men suspected of masterminding a cyber-extortion racket targeting online bookies were arrested last month in a joint operation between the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit and its counterparts in the Russian Federation. The trio, who investigators reckon netted hundreds of thousands of pounds from the shakedowns, were picked up in a series of raids both in St Petersburg, and in the Saratov and Stavropol regions in southwest Russia. A spokeswoman for the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit told El Reg today that it was leaving the prosecution in the hands of the Russians.

The alleged cyber-extortions took place following distributed denial of service attacks directed against the websites of many online bookies. These attacks bombarded bookies' servers with a tidal wave of spurious and malicious traffic, effectively shutting down their online operations. Russia's Interior Ministry said that gang had also launched attacks on unidentified British banks.

At a press conference in Moscow last week, Russian officials gave further details about the gangs' alleged activities, but did not name suspects or confirm the identity of their victims. Under Russia's penal code, the suspects could face up to 15 years imprisonment if convicted of extortion. ®

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