Cyber Crime

Israel extradites Russian hacker to the US for massive credit card scam

Extradition has always been a sour topic, particularly amongst countries that are not the best of friends. Such a recent split was seen when a 29 years old Russian hacker named Aleksei Burkov was extradited to the USA by Israel for allegedly engaging in acts that led to over $20 million in credit card fraud.

While Russia indeed has objected to this, it didn’t help even though the former went on to offer an exchange of a 26-year-old Israeli woman named Naama Issachar serving a 7-year sentence in Russia currently.

Aleksei Burkov

Facing charges [PDF] in the Eastern Virginia US District Court,  the government provided details of Aleksei running a website by the name of Cardplanet from 2019-2013 that sold credit card numbers for an amount ranging from $3-60 – an act very obviously illegal.

Screenshot from court documents

Moreover, it is reported that he also offered a cash-back guarantee in the event that the stolen card didn’t work. Perhaps, this helps explains what made his online store thrive to bring in such a huge amount.

However, this isn’t all. The prosecution also mentioned a second site that dealt in stolen goods, pirated software, hacking for hire services and much more in addition to simple credit card theft. Moreover, it was an invite-only marketplace with the following criteria to gain membership:

  1. Get three existing members to recommend you.
  2. Pay a reasonable sum of money as insurance which was normally $500.

“These measures were designed to keep law enforcement from accessing Burkov’s cybercrime forum and to ensure that members of the forum honored any deals made while conducting business on the forum,” said he Eastern Virgina US Attorney’s office.

As expected, this kept law enforcement officers away from this site as no three criminals would vouch for an FBI agent to smoothly investigate unless of course, three members had already been compromised.

In conclusion, the next hearing is on Friday and we are yet to see how many years Aleksei gets in prison. It is though to be noted that in the majority of such cases, fraudulent websites and forums are operating on the dark web making it hard to simply track site administrators through IP addresses.

Hence, law enforcement agencies may use special teams engaged in sting operations on the dark web which serves as an example to departments globally looking to adjust to this new wave of concealed crime.

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