WorldPay’s U.S. headquarters is in this building at Atlantic Station. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Federal judge in Atlanta sentences Russian hacker to prison

An international master hacker and son of a Russian lawmaker was sentenced to 14 years in prison for defrauding Atlanta-based Royal Bank of Scotland’s WorldPay of millions of dollars as part of a massive cyberfraud ring.

Roman Valeryevich Seleznev’s sentencing on Thursday came almost four months after he pleaded guilty in federal court in Atlanta to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. He was also sentenced for his guilty plea to racketeering that was brought in federal court in Nevada.

“Seleznev was involved in at least three schemes, one of which was a scheme targeting an Atlanta-based company that resulted in the highly coordinated withdrawal of millions of dollars from ATMs throughout the world in under 12 hours,” said David LeValley, who is in charge of the FBI’s Atlanta office.

Seleznev, whose father is a member of Russia’s parliament, admitted he and other hackers compromised the encryption system of WoldPay, which processes payroll debit cards.

Valery Seleznev, a prominent Russian lawmaker seen in this 2014 file photo, is the father of Roman Seleznev who was sentenced this week on bank fraud and other charges .
Photo: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

According to prosecutors, the mostly-Eastern European hacking team raised the account limits on 45.5 million debit cards, some of them in excess of $1 million. A “casher” then used counterfeit payroll debit cards Seleznev and others provided to make withdrawals from ATMs in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada, according to charges.

Federal authorities said “cashers” kept 30 percent to half of what they withdrew and the rest went to Seleznev and other members of his team.

The hackers monitored the computer system as withdrawals were made. They attempted to cover up their activity by trying to destroy data stored on the card processing network once millions of dollars were withdrawn.

Prosecutors at the time called it “the most sophisticated and organized computer fraud attack ever conducted.”

Prosecutors say the 33-year-old Seleznev was responsible for defrauding the bank of $9 million.

“Cybercriminals have victimized our citizens from halfway around the world,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said. 

A total of 14 people were charged in Atlanta. Seleznev and five others  have pleaded guilty and been sentenced. Two were tried in Russia and received suspended sentences, and a third Russian’s case is pending in that country. Cases are pending in federal court in Atlanta against the remaining five.

Photo: File photo

In the Nevada case, Seleznev admitted he sold compromised credit card account data and other personal identifying information to fellow members of Carder.su, an internet-based international criminal enterprise that allegedly trafficked in compromised credit card account data and counterfeit identifications. He told federal prosecutors he sold members such a large volume of information that he created an automated website that was advertised on Carder.su sites. On his site, members could log into and purchase stolen credit card account data.  Account numbers sold for about $20 each.

The Carder.su organization’s criminal activities resulted in losses to its victims of at least $50.9 million.

For his roles in the Atlanta-based operation and the cyberfraud ring in Nevada, Seleznev could have been sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and 30 years for racketeering.

Previous coverage:

A computer fraud ring might be tied to Atlanta and the FBI is investigating. More than a milion people using RBS WorldPay on the internet might be affected. (WSB)

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