The U.S. Secret Service has arrested an alleged Russian hacker by the name of Roman Seleznev who, it turns out, is the son of Russian parliamentarian Valery Seleznev. Russia is not pleased.
Seleznev the Younger is believed to have been involved in the theft and sale of credit card data on online forums. According to his three-year-old indictment, which has only just been made public following his detention, he was part of a group that stole data from point-of-sale devices, including those in restaurants such as the Broadway Grill in Seattle (which subsequently went bust due to negative publicity).
The hacker, whose first court appearance was in the U.S. territory of Guam, allegedly went by a variety of handles including “Track2” and “Bulba.” Security expert Brian Krebs wrote on Tuesday that Bulba’s website sold to bulk buyers, who would pay between $8 and $13 per card, depending on the size of the bundle they bought.
According to the indictment:
The indictment alleges that Seleznev created and operated infrastructure to facilitate the theft and sales of credit card data and used servers located all over the world to facilitate the operation. This infrastructure included servers that hosted carding forum websites where cybercriminals gathered to sell stolen credit card numbers. The charges in the indictment include five counts of bank fraud, eight counts of intentionally causing damage to a protected computer, eight counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices (stolen credit card numbers), two counts of trafficking in unauthorized access devices and five counts of aggravated identity theft.
He also faces racketeering charges in Nevada. If found guilty, Seleznev will be going away for a long time – just one bank fraud count will earn you up to 30 years behind bars, along with a $2 million fine.
The Duma (Russian parliament) connection in this case makes for awkward timing, as the Russian government is already reacting to the NSA revelations of Edward Snowden by trying to purge American technology from its systems. A similar reaction in China was heavily exacerbated by the U.S. indictment of five Chinese army officials on hacking charges, although those had more to do with industrial espionage than credit card theft.
According to Russian state news agency ITAR-TASS, Seleznev the Elder said his son was “kidnapped” by U.S. agents in the Maldives. The Russian Foreign Ministry said it regarded the arrest as an “unfriendly step” by the Americans.
“It is not the first time that the U.S. kidnaps a Russian citizen ignoring the 1999 mutual legal assistance agreement,” the Ministry complained.