Double Deception. “Ant City” and the FBI…

The following is a true story…translated from the Russian…

On a cold day of January 18, 2001 Maxim I. Popov,a 20-year-old Ukrainian boy, nervously pushed the door of the American embassy in London.

It might have been a party to a student exchange program, which came to get a visa, but it really was a hacker Maxim party Eastern European hacker group that attacked the US commercial company, earning extortion and Frodo.

A wave of such attacks looked like a harbinger of a new phase of the Cold War between the United States and organized hacker groups in the countries of the former Soviet bloc. Maxim Popov, a baby-faced, bespectacled and with short hair, about to become the first defector in this war.

This was preceded by four months of phone calls and two preliminary visit to the embassy. Now Popov met with the assistant legal attaché FBI to show the passport and to approve the final agreement. When finished with the formalities, he soon wandered through the winter cold Grosvenor Square hotel room, which he lifted the embassy. He opened his laptop, as well as hotel minibars, and read new mail, emptying the small bottles of whiskey until he passed out. The next day, January 19, 2001 Popov, accompanied by FBI agents arrived at the airport and got on a flight to the US airline TWA.
Maxim was nervous, but it was excitement. He left parents, college and all that was familiar, but in the US it will be more than just an obedient son and a student. Popov was wanted and participated in an international conspiracy, as the character of one of the cyberpunk novels, which he loved so much.

It will provide services to the government for a hefty fee, using their knowledge in the field of information security, and then launch a web startup to make a fortune and become rich. Such were the plans.
But when the plane landed, it became clear that the agreement works a little differently. The friendly in the past, the FBI threw Maxim in an insulator, and an hour back to the federal prosecutor, lawyer and terms of the transaction, which is not discussed: Popov become their informant, will work seven days a week to lure accomplices in the trap set by the FBI.

If he refuses, you will go to jail.
Maxim was completely discouraged. He realized that it circled around her finger. Man placed under the clock security at the FBI safe house in Fir Lakes, Virginia, and was ordered to communicate with their friends in the chat rooms of Russian-speaking, while the Bureau has recorded everything. But Maxim had his own trump cards up its sleeve. He only pretended to cooperate, and he used colloquial phrases incomprehensible to Americans, to warn comrades that the United States government took him into custody.

When the agents finally got translated logs after three months, they were furious. Maxim immediately taken out of the safe house in the small chamber of the local prison, intending to lay charges over the past cybercrime.

The Ukrainian behaved defiantly, “Go fuck yourself”, – he said. – You do not know what you’re dealing with. ” But the guy was scared. Prosecutors from across the country lined up to participate in the process. It seemed that nothing can save us from a bleak future prison cells and endless American courts.
Otherwise, thought Ernest Gilbert (Ernest “EJ” Hilbert), an agent of the FBI’s provincial office in Santa Ana, California. He knew better than anyone that the government needed Popov.

Gilbert realized that the United States is at a critical stage in the development of computer crime. During the 90’s hacking was a sport for fun. But in the 2000s the first tremors of impending earthquakes heard from Eastern Europe. Signs were everywhere, if you know where to look: change in the types of hacks of websites, the amount of spam and phishing attacks, a surge fraud on credit cards after many years of continuous decline.

Hacking turned into a professional and profitable occupation.

In 2001, the Ukrainian and Russian hackers launched a website called “CarderPlanet”, which gave additional dangerous underground community benefit: Scalability. CarderPlanet worked as a universal marketplace for buying and selling credit card numbers, passwords, bank accounts and stolen confidential data.

The site posted paid advertising, there was a system in eBay-style ratings, well organized forum. For the first time a novice carder can find all the necessary materials to work on a single site. With thousands of new users coming online.

Gilbert came to the conclusion that can crack this system. But first he had to chop pissed Ukrainian hacker who had once Nadur FBI.

Maxim Popov has grown 1,000-year-old city of Zhitomir in the two-hour drive west of Kiev at a time when Ukraine was taking its first steps after the Soviet collapse. He soon mastered the computers that will receive the first education in school on the clumsy clones IBM XT Ukrainian production titled “Search-1.” On the 15th anniversary of his father bought him a home computer and a modem, and Maxim first appeared on the Internet.

Brought up in the cyberpunk science fiction and the movie “Hackers” 1995, Maxim Popov knew from the start two things. Firstly, it will become a hacker outlaws. Second, he will earn money on it. Maxim has found many supporters in the Russian-speaking forums. At the end of the 90 former Soviet republics literally swarmed with smart young programmers, who at the same time there was no special career prospects. Carders and hackers launched suvoyu own dot-com gold rush, stealing credit cards from US online stores.

Popov was not as technically savvy as many of his colleagues, but he had a talent for manipulating people and good knowledge of English. He began to make a cashing money from stolen credit cards, using almost perfect English on the phone to confirm frodovyh orders in US stores. Business went fine for about a year, but the stores are gradually began to be suspicious of the delivery addresses from Eastern Europe, so that the scheme is spoiled.

At the same time, local thugs knew about the big earnings Maxim and began to visit him, extorting money. Popov realized that he could use the extortion scheme in a more elegant form. He was with friends hacked computers of one company copied the user base, and then he Popov contacted the company and offered the services of “information security consultant” to the fact of burglary was a secret and not published base – with the appropriate fee for their services.

In July 2000, they broke into the E-Money, the now existing electronic payment system from Washington, and stole credit card data 38 000 customers. From the website Western Union they have extracted more of 16 000 user entries, names, addresses, passwords and bank cards. Popov went on contact with companies, and offers protection against break-ins and destruction uradennyh data for a small payment for consulting services in the amount of $ 50,000 to $ 500,000.

However, the tactic has brought a bad result. Company E-Money dragging out negotiations in secret contact with the FBI, and Western Union publicly announced hacking, depriving the hacker hopes to get money. His efforts were to no avail, and the pressure of neighboring groups grew.

Popov felt trapped, staying in Zhitomir, surrounded by fraudsters middling and under the threat of violence. He began to think about a bold step: go to the side of the American police. Maxim thought he could escape from the Ukraine and impersonate reformed hacker and computer security expert in the country of open opportunities.

As a result, he was trapped in a prison cell in St. Louis near the office of Western Union.

At least as long as the agent Gilbert did not come after him.

Family man of strict rules, like the screen serials 50s, Gilbert looked exactly as it should look like a federal agent with a serious look neat and combed dark hair. At the age of 29, he gave up a career school teacher of history to fulfill an old dream and put on an FBI badge. Since the first case it was placed to engage in cybercrime: he calculated the Urals experienced hacker who infiltrated the computers of a commercial company in Anaheim, California, and later helped organize a trap to lure this hacker in Seattle, where the FBI could arrest him. Gilbert knew hackers. Being a kid from San Diego suburb, he indulged himself innocent hacking took himself Idolin nickname – the ancient term meaning a ghost or spirit.

Gilbert knew that the Russian-speaking and experienced fraudster Popov able to get to places where the FBI entrance booked through underground chat rooms and forums, establishing a connection with the community members and providing the necessary evidence as Office and operational information. The trick is to start gently cajole Popov, stroking his ego and demonstrate respect for his hacking skills.

Gilbert discussed the plan with the public prosecutor in Los Angeles who led the case against Maksim Popov, and soon they dvoem met with Ukrainian hacker and his lawyers in the Attorney’s office in St. Louis. They shall declare the deal. Popov had served put the case in Missouri, and the government will unite the rest of the case and give to Southern California, where a hacker will work all the charges, becoming an undercover agent for the FBI.

At this time of the Maxima is not required to pledge any friends. Its objectives chosen strangers, to which the hacker had no sympathy. Gilbert called it a mission to collect intelligence data, as in James Bond movies. “I really respect your existing skills,” – he said. Popov signed a deal with the recognition of guilt and accepted the offer of the Government in March 2002. Gilbert appeared mule.
Popov could not pass up the chance to showcase their skills.

Before he could get off the flight Con Air in California, as sitting at a computer, designed for the study of law, in the library of Santa Ana prison. He discovered that the machine is connected to the LAN in prison, and in a few keystrokes sent Maxim “profane comments and observations” – as mentioned later in the disciplinary report – on the printers in all offices. The guards laid his face into the floor, but Popov was not sorry for what he did.

In prison, even the smallest hack has become a breath of fresh air.
The long-awaited relief came in August, when Gilbert and another agent took a hacker from the camera on his first working day. During the procedure, which has become a daily routine, arms and legs fettered with chains arrested until his conclusions to the car. After a short trip they opened the back door of the office building and the plant Maxim into a small room furnished with office furniture, with several computers under Windows, confiscated during anti-piracy raids. Gilbert tacked handcuffed to a table in front of the computer and the Cyrillic keyboard. Maxim was in ecstasy. Compared to prison, gray office office seemed presidential apartments. Here he could do anything.

The operation was named Ant City. Returning to online, Popov took a new identity, began to hang in clandestine chat and post messages on CarderPlanet, posing as a prominent Ukrainian scammers who constantly need a credit card. His first major target was one of the top in the hierarchy of the secret CarderPlanet: mysterious Ukrainian hacker known only by nick Script.

Popov contacted him in early September, and the two began to correspond directly to ICQ. Two weeks later, Popov agreed to buy the stolen credit cards for $ 400. By sending electronic information to the buyer in California, Script become criminals in the American jurisdiction. Subsequently, the obtained evidence will lead to the detention of attacker American police, although he was released after six months [now a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – prim.per.].

These “test purchases” stolen cards were a key element of Gilbert’s strategy: throw some money for Popov was the easiest way to make contacts and get a card, Gilbert could through the credit card companies figure out the source of the leak. Popov continued to make deals and collect intelligence.

Sometimes they worked for several hours, and sometimes worked 10 hours a day. Regardless of hacker success, each day ends the same way: Gilbert returned home to his family, and Popov – in a dirty prison cell. But once on Thanksgiving Day a federal agent made an unexpected surprise his charge.

When Popov came to work, he saw on the table projector aimed at the wall. Gilbert pressed a couple of buttons on a laptop – and on the screen appeared the opening credits of the film “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” which has just been released on DVD.
For lunch, Gilbert brought a real festive meal: stuffed turkey with cranberry syrup and sweet potatoes and even pumpkin pie. Maxim was touched, because Gilbert decided to spend part of the weekend with him rather than with his own family.

Rumors about Ant City operations distributed to the Bureau, and in time Gilbert began to receive requests from other departments in the FBI investigation of specific breaches. The largest took place in February 2003: at the Data Processing International processing company took away 8 million bank customer cards. Popov started asking about the DPI on the forums, and one of his friends, 21-year-old Russian student under the name RES said he knew three hackers who carried out the burglary.

Popov boldly stated that he wants to buy all the 8 million cards for $ 200,000, but first wants to get a small sample. This sample would allow Gilbert to determine that the card actually obtained from computers DPI. But RES only laughed at the offer. Relatively modest past purchases Popov did not indicate that he has two hundred thousand dollars.

Gilbert came up with a solution. Maxim dressed in street clothes and accompanied by FBI agents for safety was taken to the nearest bank, which agreed to cooperate. Employees of the bank was carried out of storage in the office $ 200,000 hundred-dollar bills and laid on the table. Gilbert took the handcuffs with Maxim and recorded a short video as he shuffles the pack of cash.

“Look, I show bablos – Popov said in Russian. – Real money, your mother, no garbage. I will put them at his own expense. ” He took a dollar bill from the pack and brought his close to the camera: “All fucking watermarks shit here. I show you at close range – he scornfully bill on the table. – So call me and let’s solve the case! ”

Video satisfy Russian. To determine the identity of RES was even easier. Popov mentioned that some of the money earned at work in the company “Hermes-Plast”, which is engaged in manufacturing of plastic cards. Assuming that the Russian hacker tries to get himself in this company, he gave a link to their web site and e-mail address alleged boss Anatoly Feldman.

RES sent a resume to Feldman on the same day, together with a scanned copy of their national passports of the Russian Federation.
Of course, “Germest-Plast” was a fictitious company, which was organized by Gilbert Popov. Now the FBI knew the real name of the RES, his date of birth and address. This surprisingly simple trick fire again and again. One thing Popov always knew about the Eastern European hackers: they always need work.

After 8 months of work at the desk, April 8, 2003 Maxim Popov was taken out of the prison of Santa Ana and escorted to the court for sentencing. At the request of the US government, a federal judge David Carter (David Carter) delivered its verdict on the repayment term of imprisonment and three years of court supervision. The judge immediately ordered to seal all records of this sentence.

After 28 months after he boarded a flight to the United States, Maxim Popov finally was free – in the middle of California County of Orange County, 13 kilometers from Disneyland and on the other side of the planet from his native Zhitomir. His immigration status was unclear. Maxim did not have a green card or social security numbers, so that he could not get a legal job in America or driver’s license. Gilbert saw to it that the FBI removed his apartment near the beach and paid a thousand dollars monthly “stipends” for participation in Ant City operations.

But Popov was unable to get used to the routine of life in the heat of the middle of a suburban freeways and shopping centers. In one of the July Days he stood at a bus stop near the office of probation, when a local resident came to him, he was drunk, behaved aggressively and swearing. Maxim Popov struck him lightly, but a local resident lost consciousness, and sprawled on the pavement. In a panic, Maxim called the FBI, already imagining that he would be sent back to prison. He firmly decided for yourself if you can get out of this, he will return home.

Judge Carter Popov gave permission to visit Ukraine on condition of compulsory return until August 18 in California, where he lived the remainder of his three-year term under judicial supervision. Gilbert took him to the airport and said goodbye, knowing that more never see him again.

Operation Ant City ended. According to Gilbert, in this time on the black market it has been revealed about 400,000 stolen credit cards, and more than 700 companies note that they hacked by hackers from Eastern Europe. Against ten suspects charged with offenses including against Script, but no one is extradited.

Gilbert maintained contact with Popov after his return to his homeland. He founded his own business, opened a company called Cybercrime Monitoring Systems (Cycmos). As described by its own Popov, the company keeps track of underground markets and sells intelligence to companies against which prepared or already committed the attack. Gilbert confirmed that it is. Apparently, Maxim Popov started to use in their business skills learned during the Ant City operations. He also sent Gilbert constant interference and flow of information, an old friend.

On the eve of 2004, the Gilbert cell phone rang: “Hey, you know what? – It is said Popov its smooth, pleasant accent – There is something new. ” He explained that it is a big hack. And, characteristically, this time the victim was not some company, and the FBI itself.

Popov was watching a hacker group, which specialized in working with the pre-Internet era of network protocol X.25, which was used in the 70s and 80s in the first public networks with packet switching. By 2004, the X.25 protocol is outdated as Betamax with respect to VHS, but the old network is still supported for feedback in thousands of corporations and government agencies worldwide.

Russian hackers rummaged in these ancient networks, and one day came across something interesting. They infiltrated the computer network of AT & T data center in New Jersey, where the contract were installed mail servers, a number of US government agencies. One of them was the FBI, which gave access to the correspondence of Russian agents with email addresses @

Gilbert hung up and immediately called the head. Soon, he was on a plane to Washington to lead the investigation. Gilbert made the FBI has allocated the sum of $ 10,000 to pay for Cycmos services company that would get some stuff stolen from the FBI server, and establish the identity of any of the hackers, who participated in the operation. Popov handed over two documents, he said, the FBI obtained from mail boxes 11-page dossier on one of CarderPlanet administrators under the name King Arthur, as well as a spreadsheet with a list of cybercrime aims FBI and Secret Service, divided by jurisdiction.

The list of goals was six months ago and is equipped with markings “Law Enforcement Sensitive” ( «Confidential law enforcement”) and “Do not transmit over the Internet” ( «do not pass through the Internet”). For the community it was potentially a goldmine, because the documents contain nicknames – and in some cases, and real names – more than 100 hackers who have fallen under the scope of the US government, with surface markings such as “priority objective” or “currently working with the Government.” On leakage informed the White House that raised the stakes even higher. Gilbert asked Popov to get more information.

Maxim began to dig. He said Gilbert clandestine chat, where you can find the leader of the hacker group, which specializes in X.25. Soon he Gilbert talked with Leonid Sokolov, a student at St. Petersburg University. In an interview, he confirmed the hacking of the data center AT & T and the theft of documents. Gilbert got what he wanted. It was the biggest deal of his career.

But not without untoward incident. February 10, 2005 Gilbert was summoned to the headquarters of the FBI. In the conference hall were five bosses and irate federal prosecutor swore on speakerphone.

It turned out that the victims of hacker groups began X.25 several corporations, and Maxim Popov appealed to him, offering his help. One of the victims was the Boston EMC multi-billion dollar, she hackers stole source code for popular software for VMware virtualization. If the source code will get in the open access, the hackers from around the world can explore it in search of vulnerabilities. VMware is used to isolate virtual machines on a single server, so that in the worst scenario, an attacker could use the bug in the program and get out of the isolated environment of a virtual machine to access the server and all the other virtual machines.
Using a standard business pseudonym “Dennis Pinhaus» (Denis Pinhaus), Popov contacted with EMC company and warned them of burglary.

For the right price, he promised to prevent the publication of source code in the public domain and to help in the technical investigation of hacking. As before, Popov said EMC’s name and contact information to the FBI agent, who can attest to its reliability: Ernest Gilbert.
Obviously, EMC felt that there is an attempt of extortion, and reported in the Boston Office of Public Prosecutor.

The statement fell on the table Hayman Stephen (Stephen Heymann), hard prosecutor. He specialized in computer hacking, and later became notorious because of the persecution of Internet activist Aaron Schwartz, who eventually brought to suicide.
Now Hayman handsfree demanded an answer: who is Pinhaus? Gilbert explained that Pinhaus asset was the FBI who helped with an urgent investigation. “Now I need this guy” – he said. Hayman did not hesitate. He insisted that the anti-Ukrainian should bring charges and seek his extradition. He demanded from Gilbert to give his real name.
Gilbert refused. At Hayman had the right to have a criminal case on Pinhausa under his pseudonym and ask the FBI through the official channels of information about his real name. But from the Gilbert he did not receive.

This refusal was not acceptable to the public prosecutor in Boston – the city where I still remember the dirtiest scandal with FBI informants. The prosecutor’s office sent to jail a former FBI agent who for decades covered the killer and one of the gang leaders in South Boston for the fact that he worked informant. “This is another case Whitey Bulger!” – Roared the prosecutor.

Chief Gilbert ordered to leave the room. Gilbert went to his computer and sent a message to Popov, to stay away from EMC: «Forget it, okay? – Gilbert remembers the text. – It is important. All are studying the situation. You need to quit. ”
Gilbert returned to the AT & T case.

Sokolov was charged at a private meeting in New Jersey, was issued a secret order to the Interpol Red Notice for his arrest as soon as he leaves Russia and will call in the country, signed an agreement on extradition with the United States. Popov received a fee and an official thank-you letter from the FBI, which could be placed on its website: “We express our appreciation for the support.”

The thing is and remains hidden in the dark depths of the history of the FBI. The only public mention of breaking was an article in Newsweek in 2005, and Office understated the incident, saying that no important information is not stolen.
The dispute with Boston prosecutor almost stёrsya memory Gilbert. But four months later from the office unexpectedly received orders to suspend all contact with Popov and transmit more than 600 pages of logs for 18 months of online correspondence. Shortly thereafter, he was transferred from the Department for the fight against cybercrime in the unit to combat terrorism.

Gilbert plunged into a new job, but eventually noticed something strange. He pulls away from any promotions and agents, whom he knew for decades, stopped to talk to him. In August 2006, he applied for the position of chief of the Los Angeles division. When information about the vacancy reached headquarters, Gilbert suddenly deleted from the list of candidates and said that he did not re-declare. “What the hell is going on?” – He asked his boss Gilbert. Then he learned that it was known to all others: the investigation conducted against him. For the whole year Justice Department Inspector General led the case on suspicion of fraud and a conspiracy against the government, as well as leakage of confidential information, law enforcement – that warning, he sent Popov about EMC.

Gilbert was devastated. He has always dreamed of working for the FBI, but the investigation can lower the barrier for its increase through the ranks, and in his home with two children and a third on the way. He slowly began to seek employment opportunities in the private sector, and in February 2007, he went into the chief’s office, surrendered weapons license and quit. That most outstanding investigation eventually ended his eight-year career in the FBI.
Gilbert led a good case for a new job as a consultant when Popov again called him unexpectedly. Since their last conversation took place more than six years, and this time, Popov was not a business proposal and any valuable information. Only thanks.
“He called me to say thank you for the way I treated him, and his time in prison, and how it was all done – Gilbert said to me over lunch in a family restaurant Orange County in early 2013. – Now he came home and changed his life, his family now, and he has to me all that he has – it’s his word. ”

Call from Popova only stirred up in Gilbert is a vague feeling that the government unfairly cost him. Even after his dismissal of the Inspector General’s office continued an investigation against him and once even sent agents into the workplace Gilbert for questioning. After all, only in 2009 the investigation was closed, when the Ministry of Justice refused to formally press charges.

In a conversation with me Maxim Popov, first told the same thing as Gilbert. But over time, I have an additional implication. Popov held his personal grudge against EMC for that story. The fact is that by the time the call to Gilbert, he has settled a deal with EMC.
It turned out that at the same time to complain to the prosecutor, EMC secretly made a deal with Popov in 2005, he said, and paid him $ 30,000 immediately and promised another $ 40,000 in four installments over four years, provided that the stolen VMware code does not fall into the open access. He fulfilled his part of the deal. The code was never published, and the fact that the most valuable assets of the corporation are in the hands of foreign hackers, remained unknown to the shareholders and the company’s clients.

Four years later, he got in touch with EMC, the company to pay him the remainder of the total amount of $ 70,000, but the company refused to pay, he says (EMC representatives declined to comment). By that time, EMC VMware has allocated a separate business. For Popova, it looked as if they want to pretend that nothing had happened.

The apparent lack of respect touched Maxim and he wanted revenge. Popov has created a new identity – Hardcore Charlie, hacktivists of the movement Anonymous. April 23, 2012, nearly eight years after the theft, the first 520 lines of source code VMware appeared in the public domain.

Despite the age of the source code, information about the leak caused a stir in the computer world, and looked up at the offices of employees in VMware ears in Palo Alto.

Hacking 2004 has long vanished from the corporate memory, and part of the stolen kernel code is still used in the latest version of the product. Director of Security Ian Mulholland (Iain Mulholland), a former British army officer, launched a powerful operation to minimize damage and hired all the auditors, to which only he could reach, to find vulnerabilities in the kernel code. The company has released the first of the many security updates that patched hole found, after 10 days. By the time Popov has laid out a voluminous piece of code in November 2012, all the critical vulnerabilities have been eliminated.

Such actions are not very similar to the action of the usual consultant for information security. When I gently pressed on Maxim, he finally admitted the obvious: hacking EMC and mail servers the FBI was not just a random attack by a hacker.
“Technically, we did,” – said Maxim me in a phone call late at night.
Sokolov, the St. Petersburg student against whom the FBI brought charges and is announced to the Interpol wanted list, from the outset worked together with Popov, squeezing money after break-ins X.25.

“He is the best of the best”, – said Popov. When they entered the data center AT & T, Popov came to the conclusion that the telecommunications giant easily pay $ 150 000 to find out more hacking and defend their government contracts. Only when AT & T refused to deal, Popov called Gilbert and said the burglary, hoping that the FBI would pay for the information.

Having signed a deal with Gilbert, Popov talked Sokolova chat with an agent in the chat that he “opened” a crime. Popov said that Gilbert himself was not a member of the conspiracy. “I think he suspected something, in fact, – says Popov. – But then it was not so obvious. ”

I can not confirm suspected something Gilbert or not, because the time of recognition of Popov himself Gilbert stopped communicating with me, since the announcement of this story with Ant City operation could harm his new career as director of computer security and data protection the largest company of consulting and audit PricewaterhouseCoopers.

For its part, Popov, who is now 35 years old, it seems at the same time bold and weary. He has no regrets about breaking the FBI. But his audacity goes out a little, when I ask what role it played in the destruction of duplicity Gilbert’s career in the FBI.
Popov still remembers Thanksgiving Day 2002, the turkey and the “Lord of the Rings.”
“He was my only friend, – said Popov of Gilbert. – I still love him, even if it is slightly pulled away from me because of my new cases. I’m still a “black hacker»

( “blackhat”), and always has been. But who cares? I still love him. ”
In the years after surgery Ant City, the underground community in Eastern Europe, passed a long way and has grown to enormous proportions. Hacks Target and Home Depot have resulted in the release of nearly 100 million debit and credit cards in the years 2013 and 2014.

Made in the Russian banking Trojan ZeuS has boosted the theft of online banking to maximum performance for 10 years. Worms and botnets, ransomware, which encrypt files and demand a ransom for Bitcoin, even complex circuit insider trading with loss of $ 100 million – all this is due to hackers from the former Soviet republics. As usual, the scalability is everything.

Russian hacker does not break the bank to steal some money. It creates a software package that automates the hack banks and sells it on the underground forums for $ 3,000 per copy. Its customers – these thieves – hire spammers to spread malware and money mules for money laundering.

Each has its own specialty and Everyone gets a reward.
Gilbert Popov was the first attempt to divide the world, although in many ways it was just a new technique of traditional law enforcement tactics. When the federal agency is faced with a powerful criminal machine, it always tries to sabotage her work from the inside.

And to do this, the agency should be a working component in the mechanism of the criminal, who hopes to destroy. Such tactics have always threatened the fragile balance, and Ant City operation was not the last example, when it brings the opposite effect.

Shortly after her in another case, an informant of the Secret Service Albert Gonzalez joined the conspiracy with the Russian hackers, which led to leakage of 160 million credit cards and the detriment of hundreds of millions of dollars – before he was caught and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment in 2010 . The federal prosecutor, Assistant Attorney Hayman, requested 25 years.

Some operations are completed arrests and awards, others – silence and confusion. The only thing remains unchanged – it is underground in Eastern Europe, which grinds on his way any obstacles, like any machine, tirelessly and indifferent, mostly just in search of paid work.

Source: habrhabr…submitted By the Started Papa of Johnny via


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