38-year-old Russian citizen Peter Levashov pleaded guilty to charges of cyber fraud in US District Court in Hartford, Connecticut, as stated in a press release published on the website of the US Justice Department.
“Levashov pleaded guilty before US District Judge Robert N. Chatigny to one count of causing intentional damage to a protected computer, one count of conspiracy, one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft,” the press release stated. “Judge Chatigny scheduled sentencing for September 6, 2019. Levashov is detained pending sentencing.”
“For over two decades, Levashov operated botnets that enabled him to harvest personal information from infected computers, disseminate spam, and distribute malware used to facilitate multiple scams. He used the Kelihos botnet to distribute thousands of spam e-mails, harvest login credentials, and install malicious software on computers around the world,” said US District Attorney John Durham.
“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates that the Department will collaborate with our international law enforcement partners to bring cybercriminals to justice, wherever they may be,” a Federal Bureau of Investigation representative stated in Court.
Levashov was arrested in April 2017 in Barcelona. In February 2018, he was extradited to the USA. According to the Spanish Ministry of Internal Affairs, Levashov controlled the Kelihos botnet network that enabled him to harvest personal information, disseminate spam, and distribute malware. Levashov initially pleaded not guilty.
In October 2017, the Court in Saint-Petersburg arrested Levashov for hacking and blocking information on the website of one of the health facilities of the city. The investigators believe that during the period of May 15 to 10 June, he established “illegal access to information” acting on mercenary motives. According to Spamhaus, the British organization that monitors dissemination of spam messages, Levashov was one of the top ten spammers in the world.