RBS WorldPay hack ringleader finally sentenced

Nearly five years after the day he was indicted, Sergei Nicolaevich Tsurikov has finally been sentenced for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and computer intrusion for his involvement in an elaborate scheme which stole over $9.4 million from a credit card processor.

During November 2008, Tsurikov and others obtained unauthorized access into the computer network of RBS WorldPay, what was then the U.S. payment processing division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, located in Atlanta, Ga.

The group used sophisticated hacking techniques to compromise the data encryption that was used by RBS WorldPay to protect customer data on payroll debit cards. Payroll debit cards are used by various companies to pay their employees. By using a payroll debit card, employees are able to withdraw their regular salaries from an ATM.

Once the encryption on the card processing system was compromised, the hacking ring raised the account limits on compromised accounts, and then provided a network of cashers with 44 counterfeit payroll debit cards, which were used to withdraw more than $9 million from over 2,100 ATMs in at least 280 cities worldwide, including cities in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada. The $9 million loss occurred within a span of less than 12 hours.

The hackers then sought to destroy data stored on the card processing network in order to conceal their hacking activity. The cashers were allowed to keep 30 to 50 percent of the stolen funds, but transmitted the bulk of those funds back to Tsurikov and his co-defendants. Upon discovering the unauthorized activity, RBS WorldPay immediately reported the breach, and has substantially assisted in the investigation.

Throughout the duration of the cashout, Tsurikov and another hacker monitored the fraudulent ATM withdrawals in real-time from within the computer systems of RBS WorldPay.

Tsurikov, 30, of Tallinn, Estonia was sentenced to eleven years, three months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $8,400,000.

T??urikov was extradited to the US in August 2010, and pleaded guilty to these charges on September 11, 2012.

This case was investigated by the FBI, US Secret Service, and aided by international law enforcement partners.

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