Russian blackmailers jailed for targeting on-line gaming sites

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Russian blackmailers jailed for targeting on-line gaming sites

Antony Savvas

A gang of Russian internet blackmailers have been jailed for extorting millions of pounds from British gambling websites.

The gang is said to have extorted more than £2m from British online casinos and betting shops, after threatening to attack their websites with denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and taking them out of action.

Ivan Maksakov, Alexander Petrov and Denis Stepanov were each jailed for eight years and fined nearly £2,000.

Victims of the on-line blackmail gang included Canbet Sports Bookmakers, which refused to pay a £5,000 ransom demand.

It then found that its website had been taken out of action by the hackers during the Breeders' Cup Races, costing it an estimated £100,000-plus a day in lost business.

According to prosecutors, the gang made more than 50 similar blackmail attacks in 30 different countries during their six months of activity.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at internet security software firm Sophos, said, “These sentences should send a strong message to other internet hackers considering on-line blackmail. However, many gangs may believe that the relative anonymity of the internet gives them carte blanche to carry on.”

Russian authorities worked with the UK National High Tech Crime Unit, Interpol and the FBI to apprehend the gang.


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