Russian hacker Aleksei Burkov who facilitated $20 million in credit card fraud jailed for 9 years in the US
Aleksei Burkov, an ultra-connected Russian hacker once described as “an asset of supreme importance” to Moscow, has pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to running a site that sold stolen payment card data and to administering a highly secretive crime forum that counted among its members some of the most elite Russian cybercrooks.
According to the reports, the threat actor skimmed around $20 million money from the site that sold stolen payment card data. Charges against Burkov were filed in 2015, and he was arrested in Israel the same year. The scammer was extradited to the US after spending several years in jail while the Russian government resisted his extradition. However, Burkov filed an extradition request and was sent to the US in November 2019.
Prosecutors say Aleksey Burkov of St. Petersburg, Russia, filled a unique niche in the world of cybercrime, describing his Direct Connection website as “the most exclusive criminal forum on the web.” Would-be participants had to put up a $5,000 bond and have three existing members vouch for them. Once inside, members could buy and sell stolen credit-card numbers, hacking services, and malware, and criminals with different skill sets could join forces to launch schemes.
The website which ran from 2009 until 2015, when Burkov was arrested, even had an arbitration feature to mediate disputes between members who conducted transactions on the site. However, the 30-year old scammer has been sentenced to nine years in prison including the time he’s already served. The threat actor has already served four and a half years in the prison and will continue until mid-2024. The 9-year sentence was less than the 15-year maximum sought by prosecutors.
The actor also admitted that he was running two cybercriminal web forums, one of which he used to facilitate the $20m credit card fraud and the second one served as an ‘invite-only’ forum for ‘elite cybercriminals’ where they could share stolen data and access hacking resources.
Burkov ran another website called Card Planet where he sold stolen credit-card numbers for as low as $3 up to $60. A majority of the data was stolen from US-based financial services and over 150,000 numbers were offered for sale at the website with an exclusive money-back guarantee if any of the numbers didn’t work.
According to Times of Israel, Israeli officials have suggested Russia sought Burkov’s release by offering an exchange for Naama Issachar, a 26-year-old Israeli woman who received a seven-year prison sentence in Moscow on marijuana charges. She was released in January after serving 10 months, receiving a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin roughly a week after Burkov pleaded guilty in the US.
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