A suspected Russian cyber-crook has arrived in the US to face charges of security fraud, computer hacking and ID theft following his deportation from Switzerland.
Vladimir Zdorovenin, 54, of Moscow, Russia, is alleged to have masterminded a series of credit card theft and stock manipulation scams in conjunction with his son, Kirill Zdorovenin, who has not been apprehended.
Both were charged in May 2007, long before Zdorovenin senior was cuffed in Zurich last March. He was deported this week just before a scheduled appearance at a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.
According to the FBI, the duo's stock in trade allegedly involved hacking into computers in order to steal credit card details and brokerage account log-ins. The pair would then allegedly run a series of complicated frauds netting hundreds of thousands of dollars. The FBI said that compromised credit account details – lifted using malware – were used to make fictitious fraudulent purchases to shell companies allegedly established by the suspects, while compromised brokerage accounts were used to purchase shares held by the pair at ramped-up (artificially inflated) prices.
The father-and-son suspects are accused of frauds which targeted US consumers and ran during 2004 and 2005, according to an FBI statement on the case.
FBI assistant director Janice K Fedarcyk explains in the statement: "Zdorovenin’s egregious behavior illustrated the true colors of the cyber underground, as he and his son allegedly defrauded consumers of hundreds of thousands of dollars using methods that included compromised credit cards, all fronted through fictitious companies they had created. In addition, Zdorovenin allegedly installed malware to access victims’ brokerage accounts, trading victims' securities and manipulating the price of stocks Zdorovenin already owned.
"This should serve as a stark reminder to anyone who believes he can commit cyber crime and hide behind the safety and anonymity of a Russian IP address; you are not beyond the reach of the FBI,” she added.
The Russian constitution specifically prohibits the extradition of its citizens, so it is fortunate for the US authorities investigating the case that Zdorovenin strayed into Switzerland. ®