Russian MP's son pleads guilty to role in massive $50m identity theft and credit card fraud ring

Roman Seleznev, the son of Russian MP Valery Seleznev, pleaded guilty to his involvement in the Carder.su identity and credit card theft ringiStock

The son of a prominent Russian MP has pleaded guilty on Thursday (8 September) to charges related to his role in a $50m (£37.8m) identity theft and credit card fraud ring called "Carder.su". Roman Valeryevich Seleznev, 33, also known as Track2, pleaded guilty in two separate criminal cases in Georgia and Nevada to one count of participation in a racketeering scheme and another count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, the US Justice Department said on Friday (8 September).

Seleznev is the son of Russian parliament member Valery Seleznev — a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In April, he was sentenced by a federal court in Washington to 27 years in US prison for a massive computer hacking and credit card fraud scheme that caused nearly $170m in damages.

As part of his Nevada plea, Seleznev admitted to becoming a member of the Carder.su organisation in January 2009 — an online, international criminal enterprise whose members "trafficked in compromised credit card account data and counterfeit identifications and committed identity theft, bank fraud and computer crimes," the Justice Department said.

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He admitted to selling compromised credit card data and other personal identifying information to other members in the crime ring and even created an automated website advertised on Carder.su's website to sell the "large volume of product".

Each victim's account number was sold for approximately $20, ultimately costing victims over $50m in losses.

He also admitted to serving as a "casher" by working with other hackers to defraud an Atlanta-based company that helped process credit and debit card transactions for financial institutions.

Hackers allegedly infiltrated the company's computer systems and stole 45.5 million debit card numbers, a portion of which was used to fraudulently withdraw over $9.4m from over 2,000 ATMs in 280 cities across the globe in less than 12 hours.

So far, 55 individuals have been charged in relation to the Carder.su organisation, with 33 individuals convicted to date. The rest are currently fugitives or pending trial.

Seleznev was arrested while on vacation in the Maldives in 2014 and later brought to the US to face charges. The Russian government and his father have long asserted that his arrest was illegal and more akin to a kidnapping.

Seleznev's attorney, Igor Litvak, said his client has accepted responsibility for his role in the two cases settled on Thursday. However, he plans to appeal his conviction in the separate Washington case. His 27-year-sentencing in that case is the longest one handed down for charges related to hacking in the US.

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"We still feel the way he was brought to the US was illegal," Litvak said, Reuters reports. "He was basically kidnapped."

Seleznev will be sentenced on 11 December.

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