Russians, Ukrainian Charged in Global Hacking

Five men were charged Thursday in Newark with conspiring in a worldwide hacking and data-breach scheme that targeted more than a dozen major retailers, financial institutions and payment-processing companies.

The four Russians and a Ukrainian stole and sold more than 160 million credit card numbers from corporate networks from 2007 to 2012, resulting in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars, federal prosecutors said.

Announcing the indictments, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman called the case the largest hacking and data-breach scheme ever prosecuted in the United States.

Vladimir Drinkman, 32, Alexandr Kalinin, 26, Roman Kotov, 32, and Dimitriy Smilianets, 29, could face prison sentences of up to 70 years each for wire fraud and other charges . The Ukrainian, Mikhail Rytikov, 26, was charged with conspiracy only. Of the five men, only two have been arrested. Drinkman is being held in the Netherlands pending extradition, while Smilianets is already in U.S. custody.

“According to the indictments, Princeton, N.J.-based Heartland, one of the world’s largest credit and debit card payment-processing companies, reported losses of $200 million in the attacks. Atlanta-based Global Payment Systems, another leader in electronic transaction processing, estimated its losses at $92.7 million.

Other companies targeted included retailers 7-Eleven, J.C. Penney, Hannaford and JetBlue.