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RBS megahack maestro sells flats to pay fine

Crime and punishment

A high-profile cybercrook who masterminded the $9m RBS Worldpay ATM heist in 2008 has sold two of his St Petersburg flats to pay off his fines.

Viktor Pleshchuk received a six-year suspended sentence in September 2010. He avoided prison by agreeing to return his ill-gotten gains, a process he has continued with the sale of two swanky flats in Russia's second city.

Auction proceeds were 10 million rubles ($330,000), about 20 per cent more more than anticipated - and were transferred straight to RBS coffers. Pleshchuk also sold two cars, according to wire reports.

Pleshchuk was the prime mover behind a scam that involved hacking into WorldPay's systems and the forgery of payroll debit cards which had artificially boosted daily withdrawal limits. Mules associated with Pleshchuk's gang used the cards in Europe, the US and Asia, in overnight "cashing out" operations.

Russia's Criminal Code was altered recently so that economic criminals could avoid jail by compensating victims. The Russian Constitution explicitly excludes the deportation of Russian nationals - so a trial for Pleshchuk in the West was never on the cards. ®

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