NHTCU and Russian police foil online extortion racket

NHTCU and Russian police foil online extortion racket

Key members of a Russian gang suspected of running a global extortion racket targeting online bookmakers have been arrested in a joint operation between the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) and its counterparts in the Russian Federation.

NHTCU says three men were arrested in a series of raids in St Petersburg and in the Saratov and Stavropol regions of southwest Russia.

Bookies in the UK have been subject to attacks and demands for money since October 2003. The extortions, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds, took place following denial of service (DOS) attacks on servers and Web sites. The gang then sent e-mails demanding to be paid to stop the attacks for one year, when they would then return for more.

Cash was being transferred by a number of money transfer agencies, which gave information over to the NHTCU.

In Russia, the NHTCU worked closely with computer crimes specialists from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) to identity the criminals.

Detective Chief Superintendent Len Hynds, head of the NHTCU, says: "The success of this operation is built on the foundation of international partnerships between law enforcement and business...Thanks to the response of all the parties involved, we have helped to dismantle a determined group of organised criminals."

As part of the investigation, 10 members of the gang were arrested in Riga, Latvia, in November last year. NHTCU says, through these arrests officers were able to identify the financial trail which led to the gangsters arrests.

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