Russian man pleads guilty in SpyEye malware case

Grant Gross

In June and July 2011, FBI covert sources communicated directly with Panin about SpyEye, the DOJ said. FBI sources then purchased a version of SpyEye from Panin that contained features designed to steal confidential financial information, initiate fraudulent online banking transactions, install keystroke loggers and initiate distributed denial of service attacks from computers infected with the malware.  

On Dec. 20, 2011, a grand jury in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia returned a 23-count indictment against Panin, who had yet to be fully identified, and Bendelladj. The indictment charged one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, and 11 counts of computer fraud. A superseding indictment was subsequently returned identifying Panin by his name. 

Bendelladj was apprehended at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan. 5, 2013, while he was in transit from Malaysia to Algeria. Bendelladj was extradited from Thailand to the U.S. last May. His charges are currently pending in the Northern District of Georgia.

Panin was arrested by U.S. authorities on July 1, 2013, when he arrived on a flight at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Reports at the time said he was taken into custody in the Dominican Republic and flown to Atlanta from there. Russian authorities were reported to have been outraged by the maneuver. The investigation also has led to the arrest of four of Panin's SpyEye clients and associates in the U.K. and Bulgaria. 

On Jan. 28, Panin pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire and bank fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for April 29.

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