Criminal Justice

In first case of its kind, feds use RICO statute to pursue claimed Internet credit-theft ring

When federal anti-racketeering statutes were enacted, their intended targets were organized crime families largely based in the U.S.

But today the Internet is where crime is rampant, and federal authorities are now using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act as a weapon against claimed international criminal confederates working in concert online who may never have met face-to-face, according to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

In the first case of its kind, the Department of Justice is prosecuting under the RICO statute individuals accused of buying and selling stolen credit card numbers and fake identification via a website known as An early defendant in the case cooperated, enabling Las Vegas prosecutors to take on his Internet persona and gather evidence against others.

Nearly 40 administrators, vendors and users on were indicted on RICO charges in Las Vegas. Roman Valerevich Seleznev, the son of a Russian lawmaker, is the subject of a federal indictment unsealed this week in Seattle, the newspaper recounts. Proscutors say Seleznev, 30, made $2 million within three months selling stolen credit card information on Seleznev’s family says it is too early to comment on the case against him in detail, but contended that allegations against him “do not correspond to factual reality.”

“The new face of organized crime—and particularly international organized crime—is largely cyber-based,” DOJ organized-crime chief James Trusty told the Wall Street Journal. “The groups are emerging as very hierarchical, very secure and very profitable criminal enterprises. And they may straddle nationalities in ways that you never would have imagined.”

A Department of Homeland Security press release provides further details.

See also:

Capital Hill Seattle Blog: “Russian hacker captured in 2010 Broadway Grill data breach”

Marianas Variety: “US Secret Service arrests ‘prolific Russian hacker’ on Guam”

Reuters: “Moscow accuses US of ‘kidnapping’ Russian hacker”

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