US suspects St. Petersburg hacker arrested in Bulgaria of cyber fraud at $7mln
Having settled in Varna, over the course of several years, Alexander Zhukov earned about $20,000 per month by driving up the number of advertisement views.
On November 6, in Varna the Bulgarian police detained by the American order a Russian citizen Alexander Zhukov, known in the hacker environment under the nickname Nastra, Kommersant reports.
At a hearing on the election of a measure of restraint, representatives of the prosecution offered the Russian citizen to agree to a voluntary extradition to the United States, but he rejected the offer. After that, the Varna court arrested Zhukov for a month and authorized the seizure of all computer equipment that was in Nastra's house.
In the US request for the extradition of Zhukov, it is noted that he was suspected of committing computer fraud from September 2014 to December 2016. The US authorities announced the hacker on the international wanted list, and the New York court sanctioned his arrest in absentia.
In particular, the US authorities consider the Russian to be involved in online advertising frauds, the damage of which could exceed $7 million. If a hacker does not agree to cooperate with the FBI and does not turn in his accomplices, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
According to the sources of Kommersant, Alexander Zhukov, well known in the shadow Internet under the nickname of Nastra, differed from many of his colleagues in relative cleanliness in the choice of means of earnings. “He didn’t commit credit card theft and didn’t post child porn, but his work was not always clean from the point of view of the law,” his friend describes Zhukov.
Zhukov moved to Bulgaria around 2010, having bought an apartment in Varna. A few years ago, through some American intermediaries, he began to receive contracts for the falsification of statistics for watching video ads posted on the Internet. The meaning of this scam is to show the customer company large numbers of views of its videos, which are actually “driven up” with the help of bots. Such cheating scans occur by infecting other people's computers with a special virus. Nastra, having bought more than 50 servers, was driving up views himself. According to friends, Nastra performed this work for about $ 20 thousand per month.
It is not known how long this could have continued if it had not been for Zhukov’s conflict with intermediaries because of the payment. Having talked with them, Nastra “turned on the servers at full capacity,” gaining millions of views a day, and the final advertising customers realized that they were the victim of advertising agencies' fraud, and turned to the prosecutor’s office and the FBI.
Employees of the Russian diplomatic mission in Varna are in contact with Zhukov’s lawyer, the consulate provides the detainee with full support, the newspaper writes.