July 31, 2021

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Kelihos botmaster Peter Levashov gets time served

A US federal judge sentenced Russian hacker Peter Levashov to 33 months, time served, and three years of supervised release for his role in operating the Kelihos botnet.

The creator of the Kelihos Botnet, Peter Yuryevich Levashov (40), was sentenced to 33 months, time served, and three years of supervised release. Levashev used the pseudonym of “Severa” until his arrest in Spain in 2017.

Levashov pleaded guilty in September 2018 to computer crime, fraud, conspiracy and identity theft charges.

The Russian hacker has operated several botnets since the late 1990s, including Storm and Waledac, which share part of their code with Kelihos.

According to DoJ, the Russian citizen sent spam urging recipients to buy shares as part of a “pump and dump” scam, among other naughtiness. The hacker was accused to have used the Kelihos botnet to conduct spam campaigns that advertised various criminal schemes.

The activity conducted by the Kelihos, Storm and Waledac botnets was very profitable, prosecutors believe they allowed crooks to earn hundreds of millions of dollars

Earlier this month, US prosecutors asked for a severe sentence for the man, up to 14.5 years of prison.

In a sentencing hearing held today via Zoom, US judge Robert Chatigny expressed concerns that “the total offense level does overstate the seriousness of Mr. Levashov’s crimes and his criminal culpability.” The judge also added that he believed Levashov was unlikely to offend again.

“33 months is a long time and I’m sure it was especially difficult for you considering that you were away from your wife and child and home,” Chatigny told the defendant. “I believe you have a lot to offer and hope that you will do your best to be a positive and contributing member of society.”

Judge Chatigny considered that the time Levashov spent in prison in Spain, before his extradition to the US, and in the US was enough to compensate for his cyber criminal activity.

The judge deferred the ruling on financial damages the hacker may have to pay due to his conduct because he was not in possession of information related to the current financial status of the man.

The authorities will also monitor the computed of the hacker during the supervised release.

Levashov, in a brief statement to the court, thanked his wife and his attorney and apologized for his criminal conduct.

“I apologize if my activities hurt someone,” he said.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, botnet)

The post Kelihos botmaster Peter Levashov gets time served appeared first on Security Affairs.