How a Latvian man allegedly used Startribune.com to steal millions

Peteris Sahurovs, 28, of Latvia has finally appeared in a Minnesota court years after being indicted for a scheme that put “scareware” on people’s computers.

Once installed on a computer, it reports that the computer’s security software has detected a virus, then jams up the computer until the user gives up a credit card number to buy anti-virus software. The anti-virus software is phony.

If we can only harness this type of ingenious thievery for good.

But that’s not even the most ingenious part of the scheme.

This is, as detailed in a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to the indictment, SAHUROVS and members of the conspiracy relied on fraudulent online advertising to spread their malware. The defendants created a phony advertising agency and claimed that they represented an American hotel chain that wanted to purchase online advertising space on the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s news website, startribune.com. After their advertisement began running on the website, the defendants changed the computer code in the ad so that the computers of visitors to the startribune.com were infected with malware.

Sahurovs was indicted in 2011 but fled after being released by a Latvian court. He was arrested in Poland last fall and extradited to Minnesota to face wire fraud charges.

At one time he was listed as the FBI’s fifth most wanted cybercriminal.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • Jack Ungerleider

    Ah, the anti-virus virus. I spent a lot of time cleaning up from that one. It got to the point I could provide the instructions over the phone from memory.

  • Tyler

    Always be running an ad-blocker in your web browser. It’s not just to prevent annoying ads; it’s also a security measure.