US Court Sentences Ukrainian Hacker to Nine Years in Prison for Racketeering and Wire Fraud

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A Ukrainian hacker, known online as “Tank,” has been sentenced to two concurrent nine-year terms in a US federal court in Lincoln, Nebraska. Vyacheslav Igorevich Penchukov, 36, pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy to participate in racketeering and a conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Penchukov’s criminal spree, which lasted over a decade, came to an end in December 2022 when he was arrested in Switzerland and extradited to the United States. US District Judge John M. Gerrard ordered Penchukov to pay more than $73 million in restitution, as well as serve three years of supervised release for each count, with the sentences running concurrently.

The hacker, who was on the FBI’s “most wanted” cyber list, was a key leader of the Jabber Zeus hacking group, which used the Zeus malware to infect computers and steal bank account information. The group then used the stolen data to log into accounts, withdraw money, and send it to money mules, stealing tens of millions from small US and European businesses.

Penchukov also admitted to playing a crucial role in the development and deployment of the IcedID (also known as Bokbot) malware, which collected financial details and allowed ransomware to be deployed on systems. He was involved in the operation from November 2018 to at least February 2021, during which time the malware generated $19.9 million in income.

The sentencing marks a rare success for Western law enforcement in pursuing Eastern European cybercriminals, particularly those based in Russia or Ukraine, which do not have extradition agreements with the US.

Matt Burgess
Matt Burgess
Senior writer focused on information security, privacy, and data regulation in Europe. Matt graduated from the University of Sheffield with a degree in journalism and now lives in London.

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