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3 indicted in 'Gozi' virus that stole bank information

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
updated 6:49 PM EST, Wed January 23, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Three men are accused of creating, distributing "Gozi" virus in 2005
  • Virus stole banking information, infected 1 million computers, including NASA's
  • Tens of millions of dollars were lost, indictment says

Washington (CNN) -- Federal authorities Wednesday announced an indictment charging three men in connection with a massive international cybercrime scheme that involved creating and distributing a virus that infected more than a million computers in the U.S. and Europe.

Justice Department and FBI officials in New York announced the indictment against a Russian, a Latvian and a Romanian who officials say caused tens of millions of dollars in losses. Most of the losses, officials said, resulted from the theft of personal bank account information. The defendants allegedly created and distributed the "Gozi" virus that had targeted the banking industry for several years beginning in 2005.

All three defendants are in custody. One of them, the alleged creator of the virus, Nikita Kuzmin, 25, is from Moscow but was arrested in the United States in November 2010.

In November, Latvian Deniss Calovskis, 27, who allegedly wrote the computer code, was arrested in his home country. In December, Mihai Paunescu, 28, was arrested in his native Romania, accused of enabling cybercriminals to distribute the Gozi virus and other malware. U.S. authorities are seeking the extradition of both Calovskis and Paunescu.

The indictment was unsealed and announced in the Southern District of New York by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer and George Venizelos, Assistant FBI Director in New York.

The officials said more than a million computers were infected across Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Finland and Turkey. In the United States, more than 40,000 computers were infected, including many at NASA.

Prosecutors say Kuzmin pleaded guilty to other computer fraud charges in May 2011. If convicted on the new charges, including bank fraud conspiracy, he could face up to 95 years in prison.

Calovskis could receive up to 67 years in prison if convicted, and Paunescu could receive up to 60 years in prison if he is convicted in a U.S. court.

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