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Alleged ring leader extradited in $9.4m RBS WorldPay heist

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Federal prosecutors say they have have extradited one of the leaders of an international crime ring accused of hacking in to bank card processor RBS WorldPay and stealing more than $9.4m in a 12-hour period.

Sergei Tsurikov, 26, of Tallinn, Estonia, was recently brought to the US, after being arrested in Russia in March. On Friday, he appeared in federal court in Atlanta, where according to the Associated Press he pleaded not guilty to charges that included conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

He and seven alleged accomplices were indicted in November and accused of carrying out a highly sophisticated attack on RBS WorldPay, an Atlanta-based unit of the Royal Bank of Scotland. They allegedly exploited a vulnerability to break into the company's network, where they retrieved payment card data as it was being processed.

They then obtained data for 44 payment cards, most of which were issued by a financial institution known as the Palm Desert National Bank. Over 12 hours on November 8, withdrawals made at more than 2,100 ATM terminals located in 280 cities in the US, Ukraine, Italy, Hong Kong, and elsewhere siphoned more than $9m from the accounts. The ring employed a large number of “cashers” who used card clones to withdraw money from ATMs and were permitted to pocket about 30 to 50 percent of the take.

Tsurikov and accused accomplice Viktor Pleschuk, 29, of St. Petersburg, Russia, allegedly monitored the fraudulent ATM withdrawals in real-time from within the compromised computer systems.

The 16-count indictment also accused Pleschuk; Oleg Covelin, 29; of Chisinau, Moldova; and an unidentified individual with the same offenses. Igor Grudijev, 32; Ronald Tsoi, 32; Evelin Tsoi, 21; and Mihhail Jevgenov, 34; each of Tallinn, Estonia, were also charged with access device fraud.

If convicted, Tsurikov faces 20 years for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and each wire fraud count; up to five years for conspiracy to commit computer fraud; up to five or 10 years for each count of computer fraud; a two-year mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated identity theft; and fines up to $3.5 million dollars. Prosecutors are also seeking forfeiture of the $9.4 million in proceeds from the alleged crimes. ®

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