'Sergei Nicolaevich Tsurikov' the famous Wordplay hacker sentenced to 11 years imprisonment

Sergei Nicolaevich Tšurikov

Sergei Nicolaevich Tšurikov an Estonian believed to be the ringleader of a cyber criminal group has been found guilty of hacking into RBS Worldpay – the US payment processing division of RBS, based in Atlanta and has been given a jail sentence of 11 years. The kingpin and his band of sophisticated cyber criminals stole over $9 million from payment processor Worldpay back in 2008.

The Crime

RBS Wordpay used payroll debit cards to pay their employees and this was known to the gang. The gang managed to crack the encryption system used by the firm. Each of these cards have a specified limit to the amount that can be withdrawn. Once the crack was a success, the criminals not only  increased this limit but only created 44  counterfeit cards, thus increasing their illicit gains manifold.

The inside link

The group had a network of cashiers inside that bank that worked for them. The cashiers were coaxed into working for them by being promised quarter to a half of all the ill gotten earnings.  Once they had managed to crack the encryption, these cashiers would be instructed withdraw funds from sources spread across the globe, all the way from Hong Kong to Estonia. The number of cities hit by this cyber gang amount to 280 with the total amount netted by them standing at a staggering $ 9.4 million.

Hiding their tracks

All this was happening as the group kept a close eye on proceedings from afar. The huge number of cities were used most probably to deter and hoodwink the investigators. The withdrawal of money from the accounts occurred in under 12 hours of the cracking of the code. The hackers even tried destroying all trace of themselves on the network to cover up their tracks.

The Trial

However finally the group and its kingpin lost out to the law and Sergei Nicolaevich Tšurikov was extradited from Russia to the US for this trial. He pleaded guilty of the crime in 2012.  The Judge sentenced him a an 11-year jail term, further he was ordered to pay $8.4m in ‘restitution.’

US attorney Sally Quillian Yates gave a  statement saying, “In just one day in 2008, an American credit card processor was hacked in perhaps one of the most sophisticated and organized computer fraud attacks ever conducted. Almost exactly one year later, the leaders of this attack were charged. This prosecution was successful because of the efforts of the victim, and unprecedented cooperation from various law enforcement agencies worldwide.”

Security agencies have praised the strict punishment meted out to Sergei and at the same time also pointed out that governments and law enforcement across the world need to invest more resources into ensuring  that such crimes do not occur again.

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