Cybercrime Botnet Chief Ordered To Prison In $100M Scheme

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A Russian cybercriminal was sentenced to eight years in prison for his role in a sophisticated Botnet conspiracy that caused estimated losses totaling more than $100 million, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) statement on Tuesday (Nov. 3).

Aleksandr Brovko, 36, formerly of the Czech Republic, pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. He was alleged to be an active member of a cybergang that collaborated online to swap trade secrets and tools. The sentence was handed down by Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“For over a decade, Brovko participated in a scheme to gain access to Americans’ personal and financial information, causing more than $100 million in intended loss,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. 

He added that this case is an example of “the department’s commitment” to coordinate with domestic and international agencies “to bring cybercriminals to justice no matter where they are located.”

Brovko is accused of collaborating with other cybercriminals to sell personal data on the darknet from 2007 through 2019. He allegedly wrote software to scrape saleable information collected by botnets, particularly banking credentials. He is also accused of verifying stolen credentials and checking balances to ensure worthwhile hacks.

“Aleksandr Brovko used his programming skills to facilitate the large-scale theft and use of stolen personal and financial information, resulting in over $100 million in intended loss,” said U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia. 

Cyberattacks are accelerating and have noticeably spiked over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. In its September B2B Data Digest, PYMNTS compiled some of the bigger breaches and found fraudsters have no geographic borders.

In the March Digital Fraud Tracker, PYMNTS explores how artificial intelligence and machine learning could help stem the surge in security breaches. Hacks have skyrocketed 67 percent since 2014 and 11 percent since 2018, data shows.

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