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US jails Russian hacker for three years

A Russian hacker tricked into coming to the US by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has been sentenced to three years in prison after he was convicted on 20 counts of conspiracy, fraud and other related computer crimes.

A judge also ordered Vasiliy Gorshkov, 27, of Chelyabinsk, Russia, to pay restitution of nearly $700,000 (£446,685) for the losses he caused to US Internet service provider companies Speakeasy, Nara Bank, Central National Bank, online payment company PayPal and Internet service provider Lightrealm.

The FBI lured Gorshkov and another man from Chelyabinsk, Alexey Ivanov, 23, to the US as part of an FBI investigation into Russian computer intrusions targeting Internet service providers, e-commerce sites and online banks in the US.

The pair hacked into the companies' computers to steal credit card information and other personal financial data and then often tried to extort money from the victims by threatening to expose that information to the public or damage the companies' computers.

As part of its undercover operation, the FBI set up a fake Seattle-based computer security company named Invita. FBI agents then contacted Gorshkov and Ivanov and persuaded them to come to the US to demonstrate their computer skills.

At a meeting with the FBI, the hackers took responsibility for various hacking activities. The FBI then obtained access via the Internet to two of the men's computers in Russia and gathered information about their activities.

They were arrested in November 2000. Gorshkov, who was convicted after a jury trial, could have faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each count, or 100 years in total, as well as a maximum fine of $250,000 (£160,000) on each count.

The US attorney's office had asked the judge to sentence Gorshkov to 24 to 30 years in prison, while his defence attorney called for a sentence of 30 to 36 months.

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