The son of a prominent Russian lawmaker has been sentenced to 27 years in prison on Friday (21 April) for a massive computer hacking and credit card fraud scheme that caused nearly $170m (£132m) in damages. Roman Valeryevich Seleznev, 32, also known as Track2, was found guilty in August 2016 after infecting thousands of point-of-sale computers with malicious malware to steal credit card numbers and sell them on the dark market.
Between October 2009 and 2013, Seleznev stole over 1.7 million credit card numbers from around 3,700 financial institutions and over 500 US businesses, including restaurants and pizza parlours in Washington.
According to the Justice Department, the stolen data was then sent to servers he controlled in Russia, Ukraine and McLean, Virginia, bundled the credit card information into groups called "bases" and then sold it to buyers on various criminal "carding" sites on the Dark Web.
Seleznev earned tens of millions of dollars from the vast cybersheme, officials said. In July 2014, he was arrested in Maldives following a years-long investigation by the US Secret Service that first began tracking his nefarious activities back in 2005.
He was found guilty by a Seattle jury last year on 38 of 40 counts ranging including wire fraud, intentional damage to a protected computer, aggravated identity theft and possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices.
He has been ordered to pay nearly $170 million in restitution to victims of his long-running scheme. He is also facing separate charges in federal courts in both Nevada and Georgia.
Seleznev is the son of prominent Russian MP Valery Seleznev, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian government has long asserted that Roman's arrest in the Maldives was illegal. In a statement on Friday, the embassy said Seleznev's lawyer is believed to be planning to appeal.
"We continue to believe that the arrest of the Russian citizen Roman Seleznev, who de facto was kidnapped on the territory of a third country, is unlawful," the Russian Embassy in Washington said in a post on its Facebook page.
Seleznev's sentence is the longest one handed down for charges related to hacking in the US.
He said the lengthy sentence was a way for the US to send a message to Putin amid strained US-Russian relations
"This decision made by the United States government clearly demonstrates to the entire world that I'm a political prisoner," Seleznev wrote in the handwritten statement, AP reports. "I was kidnapped by the U.S. Now they want to send a message to the world using me as a pawn. This message that the U.S. is sending today is not the right way to show Vladimar Putin of Russia, or any government in this world how justice works in a democracy."
"This investigation, conviction and sentence demonstrates that the United States will bring the full force of the American justice system upon cybercriminals like Seleznev who victimize US citizens and companies from afar," Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said in a statement.
"And we will not tolerate the existence of safe havens for these crimes - we will identify cybercriminals from the dark corners of the Internet and bring them to justice."
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