Suspected brains behind bank-account-draining Gozi extradited to US
Latvia will extradite an alleged pusher of the online bank account raiding Trojan Gozi to the US – despite opposition from the Baltic republic’s foreign minister.
Deniss Calovskis, 27, and two other alleged co-conspirators (Russian national Nikita Kuzmin and Mihai Ionut Paunescu, a 28-year-old Romanian) were accused of masterminding the software nasty in an indictment unsealed in January.
The Gozi banking Trojan was used to steal millions of dollars from netizens after infecting one million computers worldwide – including systems at NASA – the US attorney for the southern district of New York alleged.
Kuzmin, who wrote the Trojan, was arrested in the US in November 2010 and pleaded guilty to various computer hacking and fraud charges in May 2011. Calovskis allegedly developed code, known as “web injects”, that altered how the websites of particular banks appeared on computers infected with Gozi. He was arrested in Latvia in November 2012.
Paunescu, who operated under the handle Virus, allegedly supplied the “bulletproof [web] hosting” service that helped Kuzmin and others to distribute the Trojan as well as ZeuS, SpyEye and other malware. Paunescu was arrested in Romania in December 2012.
Extradition requests against Calovskis and Paunescu have been filed in Latvia and Romania, respectively, according to the US Feds.
Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkēvičs argued last week that Calovskis ought to face justice in Latvia rather than the possibility of a “disproportionate” sentence if he was extradited to the US. Calovskis potentially faces up to 67 years behind bars if convicted on all charges.
After the Latvian courts approved his extradition to America, the issue fell to a close vote of the country’s cabinet ministers on Tuesday. Seven ministers backed the extradition, against five who voted against and one who abstained, Bloomberg reports. The vote gave a green light to attempts to haul Calovskis over the the US.
However Calovskis’s lawyer, Saulvedis Varpins, told Latvian television station LNT that he intended to appeal the case to the European Court of Human Rights, Reuters reports. The 27-year-old denies any wrongdoing. ®