Russian and Moldovan National Pleads Guilty to Operating Illegal Botnet Proxy Service that Infected Tens of Thousands of Internet-Connected Devices Around the World
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On October 12, 2022, United States District Court Judge Silvia Carreño Coll sentenced Iván Santell-Velázquez to 13 months in prison and two years of supervised release for cyberstalking, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2261A(2), announced W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The defendant plead guilty on July 13, 2022.
According to the parties’ stipulation of facts, Santell-Velázquez, while a student at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, sent unauthorized emails to faculty, administration, and students under the moniker “Slay3r_r00t”. Santell-Velázquez targeted over 100 student email accounts and used phishing and spoofing schemes to successfully break into multiple university e-mail accounts. He also hacked into several female students’ Snapchat accounts between 2019 and 2021, some of which contained nude images that he shared with third parties who published the images online.
After Santell-Velázquez broke into a victim’s Snapchat account, she began receiving harassing text messages with her intimate pictures. Nude photos stolen from the victim’s Snapchat account were also posted on Twitter and on a Facebook page. The plea agreement identified 15 women and the University of Puerto Rico as victims of Santell-Velázquez.
“The prosecution of cyber criminals is a top priority in the Justice Department. Cybercrimes not only cause financial losses to corporate victims, but also result in financial and psychological harm to vulnerable victims, oftentimes children or the elderly. This conduct will not be tolerated.” said U.S. Attorney Muldrow. “This case also demonstrates the importance of safeguarding personal information and passwords, and the care we must take when responding to suspicious e-mails and text messages.”
“Cyberstalking can have a major impact on its victims, which can range from suicidal ideation, fear, anger, depression, to PTSD,” said Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office, Joseph González. “This is why, at the FBI we are committed to investigating these terrible crimes and we urge the public to report incidents to law enforcement immediately. Victims and witnesses can report cybercrimes via iC3.gov (https://www.ic3.gov/Home/ComplaintChoice) or by calling 787-987-6500. We’d like also to thank the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico for their support in this important investigation.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanette Collazo prosecuted the case, and the FBI San Juan Cyber Division conducted the investigation.
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