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Bulgaria extradites Russian hacker to US

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Bulgaria has extradited a Russian indicted by a US court for mounting a complex hacking scheme to the United States, the Russian embassy in Washington said on Saturday.

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The Russian embassy, in a statement on its VK social network, said Alexander Zhukov had been extradited on January 18 and was being held in a jail in Brooklyn, New York.

“Employees of the Consulate General in New York will visit him in jail soon,” the embassy said.

Zhukov is one of eight people, most of them Russian, indicted in November for creating fake advertising schemes through remote data centres and malware-infected computer networks.

Their activity cost businesses tens of millions of dollars, says the indictment.

Zhukov’s group is accused of organising two schemes in 2014 and 2015.

In the first, dubbed “Methbot,” it rented computer servers and simulated humans viewing ads on webpages, tricking businesses into paying more than $7 million (6.16 million euros) for the fake views, according to US prosecutors.

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In the second scheme, two of the group members operated a fake ad network through 1.7 million malware-infected computers to falsify billions of ad views, costing businesses $29 million for the views.

Zhukov, originally from Saint Petersburg, is known as Nastra in hacker circles, according to reports. He was arrested in Bulgaria, where he had lived since 2010, in November.

According to Kommersant newspaper, which claims to have spoken with a friend of Zhukov, the hacker stood out on the dark web for the selective way he chose his jobs, staying away from credit-card theft or child pornography.

Zhukov was earning about $20,000 per month on his fake ad-view contracts, but was exposed after a conflict with his US client, Kommersant said.


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