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Gozi Malware Creator Sentenced to Time Served

Nikita Kuzmin, a 28-year-old Russian national who created the notorious Gozi banking Trojan, has been sentenced to time served and ordered to pay nearly $7 million.

Nikita Kuzmin, a 28-year-old Russian national who created the notorious Gozi banking Trojan, has been sentenced to time served and ordered to pay nearly $7 million.

Kuzmin was arrested in the U.S. in November 2010 and pleaded guilty to various computer intrusion and fraud charges in 2011. The FBI announced in 2013 that the man faced up to 95 years in prison, but a judge sentenced him on Monday to the 37 months he had already spent in custody. The lighter sentence has been attributed to the fact that Kuzmin cooperated with prosecutors.

In addition to Kuzmin, the United States brought charges against Latvian national Deniss Calovskis and Romanian national Mihai Ionut Paunescu. Calovskis, who is said to have written the web injects that allowed the Gozi malware to steal banking information from users, was also sentenced to time served in January. Paunescu, who is accused of providing bulletproof hosting for the malware infrastructure, was arrested in Romania in 2012 and currently awaits extradition to the U.S.

According to prosecutors, Kuzmin made at least a quarter of a million dollars from renting and selling Gozi. He was one of the first cybercriminals to make money by renting malware to others.

The Gozi malware is believed to have caused losses totaling tens of millions of dollars after infecting more than one million computers in the United States and several European countries.

Kuzmin is not the only cybercriminal sentenced in recent weeks. Last month, a Moscow court sentenced Dmitry Fedotov, aka “Paunch,” the man who created the Blackhole exploit kit, to seven years in prison.

A few days later, the U.S. Justice Department announced that Aleksandr Andreevich Panin, a Russian national who created and distributed the SpyEye Trojan, had been sentenced to nine years and six months in prison. Hamza Bendelladj, who helped Panin advertise and deliver SpyEye, was sentenced by the same court to 15 years in prison.

Also in April, Estonian national Vladimir Tsastsin was sentenced to 87 months in prison for his role in a massive internet fraud scheme involving the DNSChanger malware.

Related Reading: Hybrid Trojan “GozNym” Targets North American Banks

Related Reading: Former Nuclear Agency Worker Sentenced to Prison for Attempted Hack

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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