Alleged RBS WorldPay hacker extradited to U.S.

One of the alleged masterminds of a 2008 precision strike on payment processor RBS WorldPay has been extradited from Estonia to face U.S. justice.

Sergei Tsurikov, 26, of Tallinn, Estonia, was arraigned Friday in federal court in Atlanta. He faces a variety of hacking and fraud charges connected to one of the most successful computer crimes ever.

Prosecutors say that Tsurikov was one of the leaders of a gang that managed to hack into the RBS WorldPay network, and then clone payroll debit cards -- used by employees to withdraw their salaries from debit and ATM machines on payday. They distributed the cards to a worldwide network of cashiers, who were instructed to withdraw money within a 12-hour window. Hitting 2,100 ATMs, they took in $9.4 million, prosecutors say.

"In November 2008, in just one day, an American credit card processor was hacked in perhaps the most sophisticated and organized computer fraud attack ever conducted," U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement.

RBS WorldPay is the payment processing division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

As the money was leaving the network, Tsurikov and the group's mastermind, Victor Pleshchuk, monitored the RBS WorldPay systems and then attempt to cover their footsteps by destroying data, prosecutors say.

Pleshchuk was arrested earlier this year in Russia, along with Tsurikov and a third leader, Oleg Covelin, according to news reports.

Tsurikov and five other members of the gang have already been convicted of fraud in Estronia, but now Tsurikov has been brought to the U.S. to face additional charges. He is one eight people, including Pleshchuk, who were indicted on U.S. charges relating to this fraud, and the first to be extradited to the U.S.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

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