Over a decade, the hacker likened to TV mob boss Tony Soprano stole and sold on the black market more than 2 million credit-card numbers, resulting in losses of at least $170 million, according to federal prosecutors

Share story

A prolific Russian hacker who raked in at least $170 million by stealing more than 2 million credit-card numbers and selling them on the black market was sentenced Friday morning to 27 years in prison in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

For years, Roman Seleznev was “one of the world’s leading providers of stolen credit card data,” according to federal prosecutors. He used the proceeds of his illegal operation to fund a lavish lifestyle and fuel his fondness for American-made muscle cars.

A prosecutor likened Seleznev as a “Tony Soprano-style mob boss” during the Friday sentencing hearing. The government had sought a 30-year sentence for Seleznev, characterizing his operation as unprecedented.

“Never before has a criminal engaged in computer fraud of this magnitude been identified, captured and convicted by an American jury,” prosecutors wrote.

Seleznev apologized in court, blaming his difficult upbringing in Russia.

Seleznev, 32, the son of a prominent member of Russian parliament, hacked into thousands of business computers to steal the credit-card numbers. Many of the businesses were Washington state restaurants, including the former Broadway Grill on Capitol Hill, Grand Central Bakery, Mad Pizza locations in Seattle and Tukwila, Village Pizza in Anacortes and the Casa Mia Italian Restaurant in Yelm, Thurston County.

Most Read Stories

Sale! Get 90% off digital access.

He was identified as a suspect in the hacks in 2010 after a Secret Service task force linked computer intrusions at restaurants in Washington and Idaho to a mysterious email address and website in Russia.

The Vladivostok man was indicted in 2011 by a federal grand jury in Seattle on charges involving more than 30 computer-fraud-related counts. The indictment grew to 40 counts by the end of 2014

He was arrested in 2014 in the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. While the U.S. did not have a treaty with the Maldives, officials there agreed to let U.S. agents arrest Seleznev, which drew official protests from Russian authorities who claimed he had been kidnapped.

According to the prosecutors, Seleznev’s laptop computer, seized during his arrest, contained 1.7 million stolen credit-card numbers.

Seleznev was convicted last August following a nine-day jury trial on 38 computer-fraud-related charges.

Seleznev is also facing charges in separate indictments in Nevada and Georgia.