| Sept 15
Sept 15 A Russian man pleaded guilty on Tuesday
to involvement in what authorities called the largest computer
hacking scheme ever prosecuted in the United States,
compromising more than 160 million credit card numbers and
causing more than $300 million of losses.
Vladimir Drinkman, 34, admitted to conspiring to illegally
access computers and conspiring to commit wire fraud before
Chief Judge Jerome Simandle of the federal district court in
Camden, New Jersey, federal prosecutors said.
Drinkman was accused of working with four other defendants
as far back as 2003 to install "sniffers" designed to comb
through and steal data from 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.
Sixteen companies' networks were infiltrated, including
those of Nasdaq OMX Group Inc, 7-Eleven,
France's Carrefour SA, JC Penney Co, JetBlue
Airways Corp, a Visa Inc licensee, and Heartland
Payment Systems Inc, prosecutors said,
Drinkman, of Moscow and Syktyvkar, Russia, faces up to 30
years in prison on the wire fraud conspiracy count when he is
sentenced on Jan. 15, 2016.
He may get a lesser term reflecting his "recognition and
affirmative acceptance of personal responsibility," according to
his plea agreement. Nine other criminal charges were dismissed.
"Defendants like Vladimir Drinkman, who have the skills to
break into our computer networks and the inclination to do so,
pose a cutting edge threat to our economic well-being, our
privacy and our national security," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman
in New Jersey said in a statement.
Florian Miedel, a lawyer for Drinkman, did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
The defendant has been in U.S. custody since his extradition
from the Netherlands, where he was arrested in June 2012.
Another Russian man implicated in the scheme, Dmitriy
Smilianets, 32, is also in U.S. custody after pleading not
guilty to all charges he faced in August 2013.
Still at large are Alexandr Kalinin, 28, of St. Petersburg,
Russia; Roman Kotov, 34, of Moscow; and Mikhail Rytikov, 28, of
Drinkman and Kalinin were previously been charged as "Hacker
1" and "Hacker 2" in a 2009 indictment accusing Albert Gonzalez
of Miami over his involvement in five corporate data breaches.
Gonzalez is serving a 20-year federal prison term.
The case is U.S. v. Drinkman, U.S. District Court, District
of New Jersey, No. 09-cr-00626.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom