A US court has sentenced the son of a Russian parliamentarian to 27 years behind bars after finding him guilty of a large-scale cyber scam.
Prosecutors argued that Roman Valeryevich Seleznev, 32, caused damage in excess of $169 million (€157.5 million) to small businesses and financial institutions by stealing consumer credit card numbers and selling them on dark web marketplaces.
Total losses from Seleznev’s activities could grow to billions of dollars, court documents said.
US District Judge Richard Jones imposed the sentence during a hearing at a Seattle court on Friday after Seleznev was convicted last August of 38 counts related to a scheme to hack point-of-sale computers to steal credit card information.
His father, Russian lawmaker Valery Seleznev, who is reported to be a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, responded to his son’s sentence by saying the US had “adducted” his son and that the charges laid against him are a lie.
Seleznev’s jail term is thought to be the longest handed down for hacking-related charges in the United States.
“Today is a bad day for hackers around the world,” US Attorney Annette Hayes said in a statement.
“The notion that the internet is a wild west where anything goes is a thing of the past. As Seleznev has now learned, and others should take note – we are working closely with our law enforcement partners around the world to find, apprehend, and bring to justice those who use the internet to steal and destroy our peace of mind.
“Whether the victims are multi-national banks or small pizza joints, we are all victims when our day-to-day transactions result in millions of dollars ending up in the wrong hands.”
Seleznev was arrested in the Maldives in 2014, when investigators found more than 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers on his laptop. US police persuaded the Maldivian authorities to help them apprehend Seleznev, despite the South Asian nation having no extradition treaty with America.
State-run Russian news agency Sputnik claims Seleznev has offered to pay back some of the money he made from the scam.
“We did disclose that [Seleznev] has certain properties in Indonesia, in Russia. There was also a bank account that was disclosed,” Sputnik quotes Seleznev’s lawyer as saying.
“And his wish is to… sell them and transfer the money from those assets so that victims can be paid to the extent possible.”
Prosecutors claimed many of the firms targeted by Seleznev were small businesses, at least one of which had been forced into bankruptcy by his actions.
In a handwritten letter submitted to the court this year, Seleznev admitted to his crimes and apologised to his victims.
“I am alive today and I thank God and the United States of America government,” he wrote.