Russian Accused of Running Spam Ring is Indicted in US

(CN) – A federal grand jury in Connecticut indicted Russian national Peter Yuryevich Levashov on eight counts of fraud, conspiracy and identity theft Friday, over his role in the Kelihos botnet that prosecutors say Levashov helped infect with malicious software.

Levashov, 36, was arrested by Spanish authorities in Barcelona on April 7. Prosecutors believe he disseminated spam and malware that distributed more than 25,000 spam emails advertising counterfeit drugs, work-at-home schemes and other scams. Through these emails, he was able to install malware and take over tens of thousands of infected computers.

Earlier this month, the Justice Department said it had begun dismantling the network.

“The ability of botnets like Kelihos to be weaponized quickly for vast and varied types of harms is a dangerous and deep threat to all Americans, driving at the core of how we communicate, network, earn a living, and live our everyday lives,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco of the Justice Department’s criminal division said in a statement a few days after Levashov’s arrest. “Our success in disrupting the Kelihos botnet was the result of strong cooperation between private industry experts and law enforcement, and the use of innovative legal and technical tactics. The Department of Justice is committed to combatting cybercrime, no matter the size or sophistication of the scheme, and to punish those who are engaged in such crimes.”

Levashov faces one count each of conspiracy, threatening to damage a protected computer, aggravated identity theft, causing intentional damage to a protected computer, accessing protected computers in furtherance of fraud and wire fraud.

Prosecutors also charged him with two counts of fraud in connection with email.