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Operator of Counter AV Service Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison

A 38-year-old Latvian resident was sentenced last week in the United States to 168 months in prison for his role in operating a counter antivirus service called Scan4You.

Ruslans Bondars, a citizen of the former USSR, had been residing in Latvia when he was arrested in May 2017 along with Russian national Jurijs Martisevs. The men were accused of running Scan4You, a service designed to help cybercriminals test their malware to ensure that security products would not detect it.

A U.S. jury convicted Bondars in May on one count of conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of computer intrusion with intent to cause damage and aiding and abetting.

He has now been sentenced to 14 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. The court is also expected to make a decision regarding forfeiture and paying restitution to victims.

This is one of the longest prison sentences handed by a U.S. court for cybercrimes. The longest ever prison sentence was handed to Roman Valeryevich Seleznev, the son of a Russian lawmaker. He was initially sentenced to 27 years in prison and he later received two other 14-year sentences.

Scan4You was active between 2009 and 2016, and it has been described as one of the largest counter AV services. Scan4You allowed cybercriminals to conduct 100,000 scans per month for $30. The service was also popular among counter antivirus resellers such as Indetectables, RazorScanner and reFUD.me.

Authorities said the service was used by thousands of users to test malware, including threats that infected tens of millions of devices and ones that helped cybercriminals carry out major operations aimed at U.S. businesses. The court established that the losses associated with Scan4You total over $20 billion.

It was not difficult for investigators to identify Bondars. He used the same Gmail account to register command and control (C&C) domains for malware and to create a Facebook account. That Gmail account also contained his real name and profile photo.

Martisevs pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy and aiding and abetting computer intrusions. His sentencing was scheduled for July, but the Justice Department has not provided any updates on the case.

Investigators believe an individual from Great Falls, Virginia, who has not been named, was also involved in running Scan4You.

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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.