Sergei Tsurikov, an Estonian hacker was sentenced to eleven years in federal prison following his conviction for the sophisticated hacking of RBS WorldPay, a credit card processing company. The scheme involved hacking into the computers of RBS WorldPay, breaking the encryption software used by RBS WorldPay and accessing the customer data on payroll debit cards used by a number of RBS WorldPay’s customers to pay their employees. Payroll debit cards are used as a way of allowing employees to conveniently withdraw their wages through ATMs. Through his hacking, Tsurikov was able to raise the account limits on the hacked accounts and then provided a network of his accomplices around the world with 44 counterfeit cards that were used to withdraw more than 9 million dollars from more than 2,100 ATMS in more than 200 cities in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Japan and Canada and other countries. The entire robbery was accomplished in less than twelve hours.
Sophisticated hackers are rarely caught and prosecuted, which is one reason that this type of crime is such a growth industry. In particular, one of the problems has been getting the cooperation of foreign law enforcement agencies necessary to take effective action against this type of crime. However in this instance, there was significant international cooperation throughout the investigation and later prosecution by law enforcement agencies in the United States, Estonia, the Netherlands and Hong Kong. Ultimately, it was Estonian law enforcement that apprehended Tsurikov who was then extradited by Estonia to the United States where he was put on trial and convicted. This is a very positive step forward in fighting international cybercrime.