Monday 18 December 2017

'World's sexiest hacker' to appear in court

Jon Swaine

A glamorous young Russian woman alleged to have assisted a gang of computer hackers who stole $3m (€2.1m) in an internet banking fraud is due to appear in court on Thursday.

Kristina Svechinskaya, 21, is accused of working as a "money mule" for the eastern European gang. She faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

Miss Svechinskaya, who was arrested in New York earlier this month, is one of 37 people charged over the alleged fraud, in which hackers allegedly broke into people's computers to steal their money.

It is alleged that they sent victims emails containing Trojan horses, pieces of software which, when clicked, allowed the sender access to the recipients files and passwords.

Miss Svechinskaya, who drew comparisons with the Russian spy Anna Chapman after pictures of her were found online, is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and the false use of a passport. She has been dubbed the "world’s sexiest computer hacker".

She is accused of helping to provide bank accounts for the hackers, into which $35,000 (€24,800) was fraudulently deposited and $11,000 (€7,800) withdrawn, in return for a ten per cent cut of the stolen money.

It is claimed she opened at least five accounts, some in her own name and others under the aliases Anastasia Opokina and Svetlana Makarova,

She is said to have been among a group of students from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus studying in the US, who were recruited through newspaper advertisements and social networking websites.

Preet Bharara, a US Attorney in Manhattan, said: "The modern, hi-tech bank heist does not require a gun, a mask, a note, or a getaway car. It requires only the internet and ingenuity and can be accomplished in the blink of an eye, with just a click of the mouse."

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