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Russian Gets 12 Years In U.S. For Role In Credit-Card Hacking Scheme

Vladimir Drinkman

A U.S. judge sentenced a Russian man to 12 years in prison on February 14 for his role in a hacking scheme that prosecutors said caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage through the sale of 160 million stolen credit-card numbers.

Vladimir Drinkman, 37, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle in New Jersey. He was arrested in the Netherlands in June 2012 and extradited to the United States in February 2015.

Drinkman pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally access computers and conspiring to commit wire fraud in September 2015.

Another Russian man who was arrested along with Drinkman, Dmitry Smilianets, was sentenced on February 14 to time already served in jail and released by the court. Smilianets, 34, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud in September 2015.

Lawyers for Drinkman and Smilianets could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prosecutors said the two men took part in a hacking scheme as early as 2003 in which they helped install "sniffers" designed to steal data from the computer networks of financial companies, payment processors, and retailers.

Prosecutors said the defendants then used an array of computers to store and ultimately sell data they collected, fetching $10 to $50 apiece for credit-card numbers, depending on the country of origin.

The scheme ultimately cost banks and credit-card companies hundreds of millions in losses, including more than $300 million reported by three companies alone, prosecutors said.

Sixteen companies' networks were infiltrated, including those of Nasdaq OMX Group Inc, 7-Eleven, France’s Carrefour SA, JC Penney Co, JetBlue Airways Corp, and Heartland Payment Systems Inc, according to prosecutors.

Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS