A Russian man made his initial appearance in federal court on Tuesday on prosecutors’ allegations he operated websites that resulted in more than $20 million in fraudulent purchases made on US credit cards.
Aleksei Burkov, 29, of Tyumen and St. Petersburg, Russia, arrived at Dulles International Airport on Monday night after he was arrested in Israel in late 2015, federal prosecutors said.
His extradition came after appeals to the Israeli Supreme Court and the Israeli High Court of Justice were denied. Tuesday’s appearance was before the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
According to an indictment that was unsealed on Tuesday, Burkov ran a website, called Cardplanet, that sold card data for anywhere from $2.50 to $60 apiece, depending on the card type, country of origin, and the availability of the cardholder’s name, address, and other identifying information. In all, Cardplanet offered for sale more than 150,000 compromised payment cards, including “at least tens of thousands” of which had been issued to holders located in the US.
In August 2015—four months before Burkov was arrested at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv—the site’s front page provided a simple login box along with support contacts and artwork, according to the Internet Archive. Prosecutors said Burkov advertised Cardplanet as “the only service that would refund the price of invalid card data.” The site allegedly offered a fee-based service called Checker, which allowed customers to instantly verify if stolen payment cards were still valid.
Burkov allegedly ran a second site that allowed criminal hackers to advertise the sale of personal identity information, malware, and illegal services. The site operated on an invitation-only basis. To be admitted, candidates had to be vouched for by three existing members and pay a $5,000 entrance fee as insurance. The admittance rules were designed to thwart law enforcement investigators and to ensure that members honored any deals they made on the forum.
Burkov is charged with wire fraud, access device fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, access device fraud, computer intrusions, identity theft, and money laundering. If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum of 80 years in prison, although actual sentences are typically less than the maximum. Prosecutors are also seeking the forfeiture of more than $21 million in US currency and any other proceeds resulting from the alleged crimes.
It’s not clear when an arraignment is scheduled or if Burkov has been assigned an attorney.