U.S. Attorney’s Office Seeks 12 to 14.5 Years in Jail for Botnet Operator Kelihos

U.S. Attorney's Office Seeks 12 14.5 Years Jail Botnet Operator Kelihos

Russian Peter Levashev is one of the ten most dangerous spammers on the planet.

The US prosecutor’s office is seeking a prison term of 12 to 14.5 years for the Russian programmer Pyotr Levashov, who is accused of creating and using the Kelihos malware, one of the largest spam botnets ever to exist.

The Russian was arrested in Barcelona, ​​Spain, in April 2017, and a year later, in February 2018, extradited to the United States. He pleaded guilty in the court of the American state of Connecticut. Levashov pleaded guilty to articles of fraud, conspiracy, aggravated theft of personal data and damage to a protected personal computer. Levashov was released on bail in January 2020, pending sentencing. Originally set for September 2019, the sentence has been postponed several times and is now set for July 20, 2021.

Prosecutors asked the judge to impose a harsh punishment on the Russian citizen, citing the fact that Levashov had been acting as a botnet operator for more than 15 years. While Levashov is accused of using the Kelihos malware between 2010 and 2017 in the current case, Levashov has also previously operated two other botnets to send spam, the US government has argued. Levashov also created the Storm and Waledac botnets, the latter turning into Kelihos at the end of 2010 after Microsoft neutralized Waledac in March 2010.

In addition, the prosecutor’s office also said that while Levashov did not directly profit from attacks by other cybercriminal groups that leased his botnet to send spam, he did make a profit by providing assistance.

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