Latvian Man Extradited to U.S. Over Scareware Operation

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Peteris Sahurovs, a 28-year-old Latvian national suspected of being part of a group that caused losses of millions of dollars through a scareware scheme, has been extradited to the United States.

The suspect, who made his first court appearance in Minneapolis on Monday, has been charged with wire fraud, computer fraud and conspiracy.

Sahurovs and Marina Maslobojeva were arrested in Latvia in 2011 as a result of an international law enforcement operation dubbed “Trident Tribunal.” The operation targeted two massive scareware campaigns believed to have caused more than $74 million in losses to over one million people.

Sahurovs, known online as “Piotrek,” Piotrek89″ and “Sagade,” was released shortly after his arrest and he fled. He was arrested once again by law enforcement authorities in Poland in November 2016 and now he has been extradited to the U.S.

The man was at one point the FBI’s fifth most wanted cybercriminal – the agency had offered a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to his arrest.

According to authorities, the suspect and other members of the conspiracy approached the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s news website, startribune.com, on behalf of a fake advertising agency that allegedly represented an American hotel chain. They purchased online advertising space from the news website and modified the initial ads with malicious code designed to deliver scareware to the site’s visitors.

The scareware delivered by the group informed victims that their computers were infected with malware and instructed them to pay nearly $50 for a so-called antivirus software that would allegedly address the problem.

While the Star Tribune is the only victim named in the indictment, the FBI said the cybercriminals used similar tactics against numerous other online businesses. Authorities said the scheme generated more than $2 million for the cybercriminals.

Related Reading: Czech Court OKs Hacker’s Extradition to US or Russia

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Eduard Kovacs is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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