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Russian hacker avoids jail over WorldPay heist

Crime and punishment

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Updated A Russian hacker received a five-year suspended sentence on Tuesday after pleading guilty to playing a key part in the robbery of $10m from RBS WorldPay in November 2008.

Yevgeny Anikin, 27, served as the "software specialist" in a cybercrime ring that hacked into WorldPay's systems and created counterfeit payroll debit cards with artificially boosted daily withdrawal limits before mules cashed out compromised accounts by withdrawing money from ATM machines across Europe, Asia and the US.

The withdrawals all took place in the space of 12 hours before miscreants unsuccessfully tried to delete audit trails from RBS WorldPay systems. WorldPay is the former Royal Bank of Scotland payment processing division.

Anikin pleaded guilty at the trial in Zayeltsovsky district court of Novosibirsk, expressing remorse for his misdeeds and pleading for leniency. "The programmer told the court about the methods to slice into the RBS World Pay's computer network, and named the number of the back cell where he had kept 100,00 dollars and 50,000 euros," Russian news agency Itar-Tass reports.

In addition to his suspended sentence, the hacker was ordered to serve three years on probation.

Anikin used his end of the scam to buy two apartments in Novosibirsk and a luxury car before he was arrested by local authorities in 2009. In a bid for leniency, the miscreant, who has been held on remand for a year since, told judge Lyubov Nazarov that he has begun paying back his ill-gotten gains.

Another more senior member of the same hacking crew received a six year suspended sentence in September 2010. Viktor Pleshchuk, 29, of St. Petersburg, Russia, escaped a more severe punishment after agreeing to both pay back 275m roubles ($8.9m) to RBS WorldPay and informing on his erstwhile partners in crime. ®

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