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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 8, 2017

Russian cybcercriminal Roman Seleznev pleads guilty in Atlanta

ATLANTA – Roman Seleznev has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud for his role in the 2008 hack of RBS Worldpay. Seleznev was responsible for cashing out $2,178,349 associated with five hacked debit card numbers.

 

“The defendant and a sophisticated team of hackers stole over $2,000,000 from ATMs across the globe,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. “This plea shows that we are committed to identifying and bringing to justice cybercriminals from across the globe, wherever they are and however long it takes.”

 

“This extensive investigation, and resulting guilty plea, truly illustrates that the FBI and its many domestic and international law enforcement partners have the commitment and the ability to reach out and touch the cyber criminals residing abroad that are doing so much harm from places that they feel we can’t go. Having Mr. Seleznev out of play and having dismantled his cyber based operations is a true success story for U.S. law enforcement,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.

 

“This case demonstrates the Secret Service is committed to protecting our nation's critical financial infrastructure and payment systems,” said Special Agent in Charge, Kenneth Cronin, U.S. Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office. “These types of cyber criminals use sophisticated hacking techniques to compromise computer systems and then utilize a global network of co-conspirators to withdraw millions of dollars from ATM machines from around the world. Our success in this case and other network intrusion investigations is a result of our close work with our domestic and international law enforcement partners.”

 

According to U.S Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: During November 2008, a team of hackers, including Estonian national Sergei Tšurikov and others, obtained unauthorized access into the computer network of RBS WorldPay, what was then the U.S. payment processing division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, located in Atlanta, Georgia. The group used sophisticated hacking techniques to compromise the data encryption that was used then by RBS WorldPay to protect customer data on payroll debit cards. Payroll debit cards are used by various companies to pay their employees. By using a payroll debit card, employees are able to withdraw their regular salaries from an ATM.

 

Once the encryption on the card processing system was compromised, the hacking ring raised the account limits on compromised accounts to amounts exceeding $1,000,000. The hackers then provided a network of cashers, equipped with 44 counterfeit payroll debit cards, withdrew more than $9 million from over 2,100 ATMs in at least 280 cities worldwide, including cities in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada. The $9 million loss occurred within a span of less than 12 hours. In addition, the hacking crew obtained access to files containing 45.5 million pre-paid payroll and gift card numbers.

 

The hackers then sought to destroy data stored on the card processing network in order to conceal their hacking activity. The cashers were allowed to keep 30 to 50 percent of the stolen funds, but transmitted the bulk of those funds back to Tšurikov and his co-defendants. Upon discovering the unauthorized activity, RBS WorldPay immediately reported the breach, and has substantially assisted in the investigation.

 

Throughout the duration of the cashout, Tšurikov and another hacker monitored the fraudulent ATM withdrawals in real-time from within the computer systems of RBS WorldPay.

 

Roman Seleznev, of Vladivostok, Russia, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

 

To date, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia has charged 14 individuals involved in the hack and cashout, including Russian nationals Viktor Pleschuk, Evgeniy Anikin, and Roman Seleznev; Estonian nationals Sergei Tsurikov, Igor Grudijev, Ronald Tsoi, Eveilyn Tsoi, and Mikhail Jevgenov; Moldovan national Oleg Covelin; Ukranian nationals Vladimir Valeyrich Tailar and Evgeny Levitskyy; Nigerian national Ezenwa Chukukere; American national Sonya Martin; and Vladislav Horohorin, who is citizen of Russia, Israel, and Ukraine.

 

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Secret Service.

 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kamal Ghali is prosecuting the case. Assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, and the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

 

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated September 8, 2017