(follow-up) Moscow gets tough on cybercrime as ID theft escalates

Joseph Menn reports:

Russia has quietly arrested several suspects in one of the world’s biggest cyberbank thefts, raising hopes of a previously unseen level of official co-operation in a country that has been a haven for criminals.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB)has detained suspects including Viktor Pleshchuk, an alleged mastermind behind a £6m (€6.6m, $9m) attack on the payment processing unit of Royal Bank of Scotland, said people familiar with the inquiry.

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RBS WorldPay is also based in Atlanta. A US grand jury there indicted Mr Pleshchuk in November, along with Sergei Tsurikov, an Estonian, and Oleg Covelin of Moldova. At the time, a federal prosecutor said the probe had “broken the back of one of the most sophisticated computer hacking rings in the world”.

Allegedly led by Mr Pleshchuk and Mr Tsurikov, the group broke RBS encryption protecting the data associated with payroll debit cards distributed to employees of customer companies and used to draw down salaries. Counterfeit versions of the cards were used in a 12-hour period in late 2008 to withdraw cash from 2,100 ATMs in 280 cities, the indictment said.

Read more in the Financial Times.

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