Daily: Estonia-based cyber criminals active for years to face US trial

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Laptop (photo is illustrative). Source: (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Scanpix)

An international investigation has led to cyber criminals who had been based in Estonia, had been operating well over a decade and were part of a much wider multi-million dollar cyber crime network to trial, with the three men, all in their thirties, potentially facing up to 20 years in a US jail, daily Postimees reports.

The FBI worked in cooperation with its German, U.K. and Estonian counterparts in the investigation, which led to the apprehension of four men, three of them based in Estonia, one in Lithuania, who had used malware to attack U.S. financial institutions, other businesses and private computers over a period of several years and causing losses stretching into the millions, Postimees reported on its English-language page.

Hearings are due June through September this year, and the four will be tried separately; one of the men, Pavel Stassi, 30, is an Estonian citizen and two, Aleksandr Grichishki, 34 and Andrei Skvortsov, 34, are citizens of the Russian Federation who are resident in Estonia.

The gang had evaded capture for some time by moving their entire Botnet network to a new, supposedly safe infrastructure, each time authorities seemed to be closing on them, while they also used fake or stolen IDs to register all servers and domains they were using.

The activities started as early as 2009, Postimees reports, while the four had a clear division of tasks including marketing and "customer relations" – the gang contracted-out much of the cyber crime day-to-day tasks to people they had recruited – they are under U.S. law still liable for crimes committed by their "customers", primarily under the terms of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act 1970, which, while it predates the web, still made crime bosses liable for, for instance, murders committed at their behest, but by button-men.

The full Postimees English article is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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