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The US Arrested an Alleged Russian Hacker — And Russia Is Pissed

The 30-year-old son of a Russian politician was arrested for allegedly hacking US retailers. But according to Russia, he was kidnapped.

by Jordan Larson
Jul 8 2014, 10:39pm

Photo by Pablo BD

In the latest disagreement between Russia and the US, a 30-year-old Russian national has been arrested for allegedly hacking US retailers, gaining access to credit card information, and selling it.

Roman Valerevich Seleznev was arrested while vacationing with his family in the Maldives; he was subsequently transported to Guam. In a statement on its website, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the arrest, referring to it as a “kidnapping” and “the latest unfriendly move from Washington."

According to US law enforcement officials, Seleznev is the son of Russian parliament member Valery Seleznev, who also issued a statement saying he "intends to take all necessary steps to protect [his son's] lawful interests."

Roman Seleznev was arrested in connection with crimes that occurred between 2009 and 2011, when he allegedly obtained hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers from retailers and restaurants across the US. (Officials wouldn't say if Seleznev had been involved in more recent hacks of companies like Target, whose systems were breached through malware-infected point-of-sale systems.)

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Authorities say Seleznev then sold the credit card data through online forums such as Track2.name and bulba.cc, raking in more than $2 million.

Seleznev was charged with a number of counts including bank fraud, intentionally causing damage to a protected computer, obtaining information from a protected computer, possessing 15 or more unauthorized access devices, trafficking unauthorized access devices, and aggravated identity theft.

If convicted on the five counts of bank fraud alone, he could face 30 years in prison. His case is being prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office in Washington, which first identified him in March 2011.

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“This scheme involved multiple network intrusions and data thefts for illicit financial gain,” Julia Pierson, director of the Secret Service, said in a press release yesterday. “The adverse impact this individual and other transnational organized criminal groups have on our nation’s financial infrastructure is significant and should not be underestimated.”

Stolen credit card data could cost the global economy up to $150 billion a year, while cyber crime generally accounts for losses between $375 and $575 billion annually, according to a June report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Follow Jordan Larson on Twitter: @jalarsonist

Image via Flickr

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