Russian hacker Aleksei Burkov sentenced to nine years in prison for payment fraud

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U.S has been witnessing cyber attacks on a regular basis. Cyber intrusions are becoming more commonplace, more dangerous, and more sophisticated. Recently, one of the cyber attackers has been recently extradited to U.S from Israel; Burkov was detained in Israel on December 13, 2015 at a US request and charged with fraud, collusion, theft of personal data and money laundering. He has been operating two web forums; one that facilitated more than $20 million in credit card fraud and another invite-only club where “elite cybercriminals” gathered to share stolen information and pool their resources.

According to documents from the hon’ble court, Burkov operated a website called “Cardplanet” that sold payment card numbers (e.g., debit and credit cards) that had been stolen primarily through computer intrusions.  Most of the cards offered for sale belonged to United States citizens. In order to obtain membership in Burkov’s cybercrime forum, prospective members needed three existing members to “vouch” for their good reputation among cybercriminals and to provide a sum of money, normally $5,000, as insurance. Primarily before the extradition of burkov, Israeli officials have suggested Russia sought Burkov’s release by offering an exchange for Naama Issachar, a 26-year-old Israeli woman who received a seven-year prison sentence in Moscow on marijuana charges. She was released in January after serving 10 months; eventually she received a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin a week after Burkov himself pleaded that:
“I recognize my guilt and I reconsider my life,” he said through an interpreter.

Originally, Burkov was punished for maximum imprisonment of 15 years. But Defense attorneys had requested a prior letter to the hon’ble court in which not more than seven years must be punished. He further citing that more than four years that Burkov has already spent behind bars, and saying the defendant “has the ability to have a successful recovery” from his life of crime.

In the end, A Russian national was sentenced on Friday to nine years in prison for his operation of two websites devoted to the facilitation of payment card fraud, computer hacking, and other crimes before Senior US District Judge T.S. Ellis III in the Eastern District of Virginia, the US Embassy said in a press release. And the last words said by him before the Court

I repent for my actions and regret my behavior in the past,” he said in a low voice. “In my
childhood I met some hackers and I chose the wrong path. Only in jail did I realize how much of a wrong path my life took.”

– Mukul Bansal ( Intern, WCSF )

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