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Suspected Russian Spam King Arrested in Spain

The FBI is dismantling what it called a massive illegal operation that enslaved thousands of computers.

13 April 2017

Peter Levashov, also known as Peter Severa, or “Peter of the North,” is alleged to have run an operation which infected tens of thousands of computers and used them to send spam, steal personal details, and spread malware.


Levashov, 36, was arrested last week while on holiday in Spain. He was finally tracked down after making the schoolboy error of using the same login credentials to run his criminal network and to access iTunes, Wired reports.


Computers he infected were slaved into a network known as a botnet and controlled remotely, the Justice Department said in a statement.



The FBI estimated the Kelihos botnet currently controls between 25,000 and 100,000 computers running the Windows operating system, a number that should begin shrinking as the network is dismantled over the next few days, PCWorld cites a Justice Department official as saying.


Levashov also allegedly advertised user data stolen from infected computers on online criminal forums and rented out the Kelihos system to other criminals, International Business Times says.



  • The Justice Department on Monday denied early reports of a possible link between Levashov’s arrest and the ongoing investigation into presidential election-related hacking, PCWorld reports.


  • Levashov allegedly ran the Kelihos operation since 2010.


  • Levashov is not the first suspected Russian cyber-criminal to be detained in Spain. In January, computer programmer Stanislav Lisov was arrested by Spanish police at the request of Interpol and the FBI over allegedly running an online financial fraud network, IBT reported.


  • The spam monitoring group Spamhaus ranks Levashov No. 7 on its list of the world's most dangerous spammers.

Compiled by Mate Mohos

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