Russian Hacker Pleshchuk Receives Suspended Sentence, Fine for ATM Scheme

A Russian hacker was handed a six- year suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to participating in a worldwide computer hacking scheme that withdrew $9 million from automated teller machines.

Viktor Pleshchuk, 28, received a reduced sentence, which includes four years of probation, according to prosecutors. He agreed to provide information about other hackers who cracked a computer system at RBS WorldPay Inc, the U.S. payment-processing division of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, and cloning ATM cards, according to his lawyer, Yuriy Novolodsky. He was also ordered to pay more than 275 million rubles ($8.9 million) to WorldPay Inc.

“This is not a regular crime but a cybercrime and Pleshchuk didn’t really have a full understanding of the damage he was causing,” Novolodsky said today in an interview in St. Petersburg. “He pleaded guilty and is fully collaborating with authorities.”

The U.S. Justice Department last year indicted Pleshchuk and seven other hackers in Russia and elsewhere in eastern Europe, saying the group used “sophisticated hacking techniques” in November of 2008 to compromise the data encryption that was used by RBS WorldPay to protect customer data on payroll debit cards, according to a statement on its website.

The cards were used to withdraw the money from 2,100 ATMs in 280 cities worldwide in less than 12 hours, in what U.S. prosecutors called “perhaps the most sophisticated and organized computer-fraud attack ever conducted,” according to the statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anastasia Ustinova in St. Petersburg at austinova@bloomberg.net.

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