US and European police said Thursday they have smashed a huge international cybercrime network that used Russian malware to steal USD 100 million (89 million euros) from tens of thousands of victims worldwide.
Prosecutions have been launched in Georgia, Moldova, Ukraineand the United States over the scam, while five Russians charged in the USremain on the run, the EU police agency Europol said.
The "organised crime network behind USD 100 million inmalware attacks" targeted "more than 41,000 victims, primarilybusinesses and their financial institutions," Europol said.
Police in Germany and Bulgaria were also involved.
The cyber gang used GozNym malware to infect victims'computers, steal their online banking login details and then siphon money fromtheir accounts.
The stolen money was then laundered in US and otheraccounts.
Scott Brady, the US Attorney General for the westerndistrict of Pennsylvania where the US indictment was unsealed, said theoperation was an "unprecedented" international effort.
"Unsuspecting European and American victims thoughtthey were clicking on a simple invoice, but were instead giving hackers accessto their most sensitive information," Brady added.
The alleged leader of the GozNym criminal network, AlexanderKonovolov, 35, of Tbilisi, who goes by the online name "NoNe", wasarrested in the former Soviet state of Georgia, the US Department of Justicesaid.
His alleged technical assistant Marat Kazandjian, 31, aka"phant0m," was also arrested in Georgia.
Konovolov recruited hackers who advertised their services on"Russian-speaking online criminal forums", and eventually controlledthe malware-infected computers of more than 41,000 victims, Europol said.
The five Russians charged in the US included the allegeddeveloper of the malware, identified as Vladimir Gorin, but they cannot beextradited because Russia does not send suspects abroad.
Gorin "oversaw its creation, development, managementand leasing to other cyber criminals" including the Georgian allegedleader of the group, Europol said.
One of the Russians, Viktor Eremenko, was arrested in SriLanka at the request of US authorities in 2017 but "through theintervention of the Russian government" was freed on bail, after which hefled to Russia.Bulgarian KrasimirNikolov was arrested andextradited to the United States in 2016 and has already pleaded guilty to thecharges in the indictment, the DOJ said.