Russia Detains Nine ‘Hackers’ Over $17 Million Bank Thefts

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Moscow: Russia has detained nine people alleged to be part of a cybercrime ring accused of stealing some $17 million dollars from bank accounts, the interior ministry said Wednesday.

The detentions followed a nationwide manhunt. The FSB security agency launched a major operation last year against the alleged 50-strong “hacker group” that pilfered more than RUB 1 billion ($16.8 million, EUR 15.8 million) since 2013, the statement said.

“Nine individuals suspected of participating in hacking attacks were detained on January 25,” ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk said. One was placed under arrest.

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A total of 27 members and organisers are being investigated, with 19 of them now under arrest in pre-trial jail, the ministry said.

Unnamed security sources on Wednesday told Russian agencies that the latest arrests are connected to a case against legendary hacking collective Lurk that was targeted by law enforcement agencies in a sweep last year.

According to cyber-security giant Kaspersky, the group was reportedly suspected of stealing some three billion rubles from commercial organisations that included banks.

Russian hackers are in the spotlight over their alleged involvement in cyber-attacks targeting the US presidential election campaign but experts say the vast majority of cybercrime in the country is financial.

The FSB itself is also currently caught up in another murky scandal that has seen at least two of its top cyber-security experts arrested for treason linked to the United States, a lawyer involved in the case has said.

That treason case has also seen the arrest of Ruslan Stoyanov – the head of Kaspersky’s cyber-security unit that probed Lurk.