On Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013 three foreign nationals—Deniss Calovskis, 27, Latvian; Nikita Kuzmin, 25, Russian; and Mihai Ionut Paunescu, 28, Romanian—faced criminal charges over their involvement with a money sapping computer virus, known as the Gozi virus, infecting over a million computers around the world. Kuzman was arrested in 2010, in the U.S., while Paunescu and Calovskis await extradition from Romania and Latvia respectively.
The reach of the virus was said to be one of the most fiscally destructive viruses ever known. Bernard Vaughan of Reuters (New York) writes: “The virus infected at least 40,000 computers in the United States, authorities said. It was used to access personal bank account information from computer users and steal millions of dollars from customer accounts globally, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.”
According to Reuters (News - Alert), law enforcement officials across several countries are working together to investigate more than 51 computer servers and other equipment containing 250 megabytes of information that have been collected as part of the probe.
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The Gozi virus, co-created by Kuzmin, incurred over $40,000 in damages to more than 160 NASA computers alone. The extent of the damage is not yet known, though Kuzman has been cooperating with investigators to piece together a cogent story.
In an ongoing investigation, the trio was officially charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Over the course of the investigation, it is likely that more damage will be known.
It is estimated that the high-tech bank robbers began the conception and coding of the virus around 2005, and upon completion put the virus up for sale on the Internet for approximately $50,000. The conspirators were often called upon to update the virus, provide tech support for it and create phony web prompts designed to collect PIN numbers and vital user information.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman