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A Ukrainian man has been extradited to the U.S. to face charges that he operated an international cybercrime ring that hacked into corporate and personal computers to steal credit and debit card info and other data.
Sergey Vovnenko, 29, appeared in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, on Tuesday after being extradited from Italy. He is charged with one count of wire fraud conspiracy, one count of unauthorized computer access and four counts of aggravated identity theft.
Vovnenko’s various aliases include Sergey Vovnencko, Tomas Rimkis, Flycracker, Flyck, Fly, Centurion, MUXACC1, Stranier and Darklife, the U.S. Justice Department said. He was arrested in Italy in June 2014 and had contested extradition since that time.
Authorities allege Vovnenko and conspirators operated a “botnet” of more than 13,000 computers infected with malicious software programmed to gain access to and steal information from other computers. The stolen data included user names and passwords for bank accounts, as well as debit and credit card info, according to federal prosecutors.
Vovnenko also was an administrator of several online hacker forums and peddled the stolen data for sale there, prosecutors allege.
Cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs said he also had a virtual run-in with Vovnenko, writing on his blog that the Ukranian once hatched a plot to have heroin sent to his Virginia home and then alerting police when the drugs arrived. Later, Krebs said, the man he knew online as Fly had flowers arranged in the shape of a giant cross sent to his home, along with "a menacing message" addressed to his wife.
"Cybercrooks have done some pretty crazy stuff to me in response to my reporting about them. But I don’t normally get this kind of closure," Krebs wrote. "I look forward to meeting with Fly in person one day soon now that he will be just a short train ride away."