Israel Extradites Accused Russian Cybercriminal to U.S. (Updated)

Felicia Schwartz and Dustin Volz report:

Israel said Tuesday that alleged Russian hacker Alexei Burkov, whom the Kremlin attempted to recover in an unusual prisoner exchange, was extradited to the U.S. to stand trial for a range of hacking-related crimes, including fraud, identity theft, computer intrusion and money laundering.

According to the American request for extradition, Mr. Burkov managed a website that sold data from more than 150,000 illegally obtained credit cards and set up an illegal forum for criminals to communicate to conduct illegal activity.

Read more on WSJ.

Note that if you are trying to research the defendant, I’ve also seen his name spelt as “Alexsey” and “Burkove.”

Update:  Later on Tuesday, DOJ issued the following press release:

Russian National Extradited for Running Online Criminal Marketplace

A Russian national made his initial appearance in federal court today on charges related to his alleged operation of two websites devoted to the facilitation of payment card fraud, computer hacking, and other crimes.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Special Agent in Charge Matthew S. Miller of the U.S. Secret Service’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Aleksei Burkov, 29, arrived at Dulles International Airport this morning after being extradited from Israel.  The indictment unsealed today charges Burkov with wire fraud, access device fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, access device fraud, computer intrusions, identity theft, and money laundering.

According to court documents, Burkov allegedly ran a website called “Cardplanet” that sold payment card numbers (e.g., debit and credit cards) that had been stolen primarily through computer intrusions.  Many of the cards offered for sale belonged to U.S. citizens.  The stolen credit card data from more than 150,000 compromised payment cards was allegedly sold on Burkov’s site and has resulted in over $20 million in fraudulent purchases made on U.S. credit cards.

Additionally, Burkov allegedly ran another online Cybercrime Forum that served as an invite-only club where elite cybercriminals could meet and post in a secure location to plan various cybercrimes, to buy and sell stolen goods and services,  such as personal identifying information and malicious software, and offer criminal services, such as money laundering and hacking services.  As alleged in the indictment, to obtain membership in Burkov’s cybercrime forum, prospective members needed three existing members to “vouch” for their good reputation among cybercriminals and to provide a sum of money, normally $5,000, as insurance.  These measures allegedly were designed to keep law enforcement from accessing Burkov’s cybercrime forum and to ensure that members of the forum honored any deals made while conducting business on the forum.

Burkov was arrested at Ben-Gurion airport near Tel Aviv in December 2015.  An Israeli district court approved his extradition in 2017.  He was extradited yesterday after appeals to the Israeli Supreme Court and the Israeli High Court of Justice were denied.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Trial Attorney Laura Fong of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kellen S. Dwyer and Alexander P Berrang of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.

The Justice Department extends it gratitude to the Government of Israel for making the extradition possible. The Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division provided significant assistance in securing the defendant’s extradition from Israel.

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