[ISN] Internet hacker wanted in US arrested in Thailand

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed May 21 2003 - 22:53:19 PDT

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    Associated Press
    Bangkok (Thailand) 
    May 21, 2003 
    A Ukrainian man wanted in the United States for large-scale Internet
    fraud and causing more than $100 million in business losses has been
    arrested in Thailand, US and Thai officials said on Wednesday.
    US embassy officials identified the suspect as Maksym Kovalchuk,
    although he was thought to use a number of aliases. Thai authorities
    identified him as 25-year-old Maksym Vysochanskyy. He was arrested
    late on Tuesday while shopping with his wife in Bangkok.
    The man, who has denied any wrongdoing, is accused of distributing
    thousands of fake software programs worth more than $3 million and
    pioneered a new form of Internet theft and account takeover known as
    Web-spoofing, a US Embassy spokesman said.
    "This Web-spoofing activity has accelerated identity-based Internet
    crimes in the US and internationally," the spokesman said.
    The programmes contained computer code which granted him "a back door"  
    to businesses that installed the programmes on their computers, posing
    "a huge danger" to their financial security, the spokesman said.
    Kovalchuk is wanted in northern California on charges of criminal
    copyright infringement, trafficking in counterfeit goods, money
    laundering, conspiracy to launder money and the possession of
    unauthorized access devices.
    Appearing before reporters on Wednesday, the suspect denied the
    charges, saying: "They took the wrong person. I didn't do anything
    wrong in the Net."
    With tears in his eyes, he also complained about being treated badly
    by Thai police while in detention.
    The United States is expected to file an extradition request with Thai
    authorities, the spokesman said. The maximum penalty faced by the
    suspect if he is found guilty of the charges was not immediately
    The arrest follows a lengthy investigation by US officials. A US
    Secret Service attache at the US Embassy in Thailand, James Gehr said
    that the police had been following the suspect for more than two
    years, and that he had caused more than $100 million in losses.
    It was unclear exactly what the losses were, but Gehr said US
    technology companies such as MicroSoft, Adobe and eBay had helped in
    the investigation. He did not say whether their businesses had been
    According to US Secret Service investigators, the suspect has been
    marketing counterfeit software through a Web site since December 2000,
    the embassy spokesman said.
    The suspect is believed to have used more than 16 "financial
    intermediaries" to launder money from the software sales and direct it
    to his bank account in the Ukraine, the spokesman said. He came to
    Thailand from Russia on May 17, vacationed briefly on the resort
    island of Samui, and returned to Bangkok shortly before he was
    arrested, police said.
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