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U.S. Charges Russian Man With Running Global Spamming Network

A U.S. grand jury on April 21 indicted a Russian man who authorities said is one of the world's most notorious criminal spammers.

Pyotr Levashov, who was arrested in Spain this month, is accused of running a computer network that sent hundreds of millions of spam e-mails worldwide each year. The U.S. Justice Department is seeking his extradition.

Levashov, 36, was indicted on charges of fraud, aggravated identity theft, and other crimes related to the spamming operation.

U.S. authorities say Levashov commanded the sprawling Kelihos botnet, which at times allegedly involved more than 100,000 compromised computers that sent phony e-mails advertising counterfeit drugs, deciphered users' logins, and installed malware that intercepted bank-account login information.

On a typical day, the network would generate and distribute more than 2,500 spam e-mails, according to the indictment. Such botnets are often rented out for multiple criminal purposes ranging from stock fraud to ransomware.

The Justice Department announced on April 10 that it had taken action to dismantle the Kelihos botnet and that Levashov had been arrested. The FBI is working with Spanish national police on the case.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

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