Hacker Sentenced After Using Fake Ads to Spread Malware

Hacker Sentenced After Using Fake Ads to Spread Malware

FBI Cyber arrests hacker using fake advertisements.

A hacker who used fake advertisements placed on local newspaper websites to spread malware has been sentenced to 33 months in prison after sitting on the FBI Cyber's Most Wanted list for five years. 

Investigators found that associates of Peteris Sahurovs, including his wife, created a fake advertising company, known as RevolTech Marketing, and contacted a local news website to purchase advertising for their "client," a well-known American hotel chain. (According to the FBI, the hotel chain knew nothing about the scam.)

RevolTech created an advertisement for the hotels that redirected to what appeared to be a legitimate site. The hackers then swapped out the ad to one that would direct computers to a malware-infected website instead. The malware was installed whether or not the user clicked on the ad. Once infected, the only way users could remove the malware was to purchase a fake anti-virus software - a cost of $49.95. 

"You didn't have to interact with the website at all or click anything," FBI Special Agent Robert Cameron said in a news report. "There's nothing the user could have done to prevent it. The pop-ups would keep. coming to the point that you couldn't do anything on the computer. You'd have to click the link and buy the software."

Between the $50 (fake) anti-virus program and the hacker's fraudulent use of several of the victims' credit cards after the purchase, as well as the failure to pay for the website "ads", the overall scam cost victims an estimated $2 million. While the exact number of victims is not known, many believed to be in the Minneapolis area because of the nature of the website.

After sitting on the FBI Cyber's Most Wanted list, Sahurovs was arrested in Poland and extradited to the United States to face charges. In February, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and just last month was sentenced to 33 months in prison. 

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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