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Son of Russian MP thrown in US jail for hacking crimes

The 32-year-old specialized in stealing credit card data for sale on the Dark Web.

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CBS | iStock

The son of a Russian lawmaker has been sentenced to 27 years in a US prison for a string of credit card-related cybercrimes.

On Friday, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) revealed the conviction, claiming that the major cybercriminal was responsible for over $169 million in damage to both small businesses and financial institutions.

Roman Valeryevich Seleznev, also known under the moniker Track2, is the son of Russian MP Valery Seleznev. US prosecutors convicted the Russian national in August last year of 38 counts of computer hacking crimes which included infecting point-of-sale (PoS) systems in restaurants to skim the credit card data of customers for sale in the web's underbelly.

According to US District Judge Richard Jones who imposed the sentence, alongside evidence presented at the trial, the 32-year-old from Vladivostok hacked into American PoS systems between 2009 and 2013, installing malware which allowed him to steal millions of credit card numbers from over 500 businesses.

This stolen data was then sent to servers he controlled in Russia, the Ukraine, and Virginia before being bundled and sold to buyers who would then use the credit card numbers to make fraudulent purchases.

It is believed that over 3,700 banks and financial institutions had to shoulder over $169 million in losses, and while many small US businesses were also targeted, the extent of the damage caused by the attack even forced one business in Seattle to file for bankruptcy.

Seleznev was arrested in 2014 in the Maldives and his laptop, seized at the time, contained over 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers as well as the evidence law enforcement needed to connect him to the servers, email accounts and transactions involved in the criminal campaign.

Prosecutors claim that the Russian national made "tens of millions of dollars" from the scheme.

Seleznev was convicted in 2016 of 10 counts of wire fraud, eight counts of intentional damage to a protected computer, nine counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, nine counts of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

In the state of Georgia, he has been charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, committing bank fraud, and four counts of wire fraud.

In a separate case, Seleznev has also been indicted in the district of Nevada for allegedly being involved in a racketeering scheme and numerous other computer crimes.

Seleznev will spend at least 27 years behind bars in a US jail, news that his father Valery Seleznev has met with outrage.

As reported by the BBC, the Russian MP says the sentence was "passed by man-eaters" and his son was "abducted."

Speaking to the RIA Novosti news agency, Valery Seleznev said his son is being "tortured because being in jail in a foreign country after abduction is torture in itself," and claimed his son was innocent of the crimes he has been charged with.

While US Attorney Annette Hayes says that "today is a bad day for hackers around the world," and "the notion that the internet is a Wild West where anything goes is a thing of the past," the Russian MP believes the 27-year sentence is akin to a death sentence as his son will not survive such a jail term.

Google's 2016 web security report: 32 percent more websites were hacked: