Estonian cyberscam defendant sentenced to 7 yrs in jail in US

Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.
Photo: Mihkel Maripuu / Postimees

Estonian businessman Vladimir Tsastsin has been sentenced in New York to over seven years in prison for his role in a cyberscam that infected 4 million computers in over 100 countries.

Vladimir Tsastsin was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Richard Kaplan in Manhattan. The 35-year-old Tsastsin has already served nearly five years of the sentence. Kaplan called the scam that infected over a half million computers in the United States alone an "extraordinarily outrageous" scheme.

Before sentencing, Tsastsin apologized for "stupidity and poor judgment."

Computers infected in the U.S. included some belonging to government agencies, including NASA. Other infected computers were at educational institutions, nonprofit organizations and commercial businesses. Individuals were also affected.

Computers were infected with software that disabled anti-virus protections and steered users to other websites.

Tsastsin was extradited to the United States in October 2014 after a two-year probe by the FBI and Estonian authorities.

Last July Tsastsin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two of the 27 charges he had faced.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that Tsastsin and his co-conspirators made more than 14 million U.S. dollars through the scheme.

According to the summary of charges, Tsastsin developed and distributed from 2007 till November 2011 the malware called DNS Changer which infected at least four million computers in around 100 countries. The malware was used to redirect web traffic to sites controlled by the ring which usually displayed ads and generated millions of euros of revenue for its operators.

In the framework of the criminal case opened in Estonia Vladimir Tsastsin was charged with establishing a criminal organization and with money laundering committed by a group on a large scale and at least for the second time.