“Not guilty” said one of the five men accused of perpetrating the largest hacking scheme ever prosecuted in the U.S., which culminated with the theft of more than 160 million credit card numbers.
The charges levied against Dmitriy Smilianets, 29, include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and unauthorized access to computers. If convicted, he could get 65 years in prison.
Smilianets is originally from Russia but ended up extradited to the U.S. from the Netherlands last year. On Monday, he entered his not guilty plea in federal court in Newark, NJ. Smilianets’ attorney said they plan to fight the charges and look for irregularities around the Netherlands arrest.
The massive breach police said Smilianets was a part of included hacks into prominent companies, such as Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven, JetBlue Airways, and JCPenney. The hack cost the companies a combined total of more than $300 million.
Nasdaq also ended up breached, but this information wasn’t released until last month when the government accused the group of five of carrying out the massive hacking scheme. Prosecutors said the Nasdaq breach didn’t include the stock trading platform and the hackers weren’t able to get any money from the attack.
The cyber attacks began in 2005 and lasted until the summer of 2012, according to federal prosecutors. Of the five accused, one other accused hacker is in custody, while three others are in hiding.
The group of hackers visited the stores of certain retailers to discover any holes in their payment systems, prosecutors said. They were also able to install software on some of the company’s computer systems, opening up a back door. In addition, prosecutors said the group used computers around the world to store malware and stolen data and launched attacks.
Once they obtained stolen credit card numbers, hackers sold the numbers to others who then encoded the data onto magnetic stripes of blank cards. These blank cards would then work to withdraw thousands of dollars from ATM machines.
The mastermind behind one of the attacks, Albert Gonzalez, ended up caught and charged in 2008, and sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2009. Prosecutors said Smilianets worked with Gonzalez, but once the mastermind ended up busted, Smilianets broke off on his own and carried out more attacks.