Petronella Blog Archive

Visit our New Blog

High Profile Russian Hackers Arrested in Amsterdam

Blog Post

Have you ever heard of Dmitriy Smilianets or Vladimir Drinkman?  Maybe not, but they were part of a group of hackers who infiltrated 7-Eleven, Discover, the Dow Jones, Hannaford, NASDAQ, JetBlue, JC Penny and Visa.  And now they are in US custody.

Those two and three others, Aleksandr Kalinen, Roman Kotov and Mikhail Rytikov, who have been indicted but remain at large, make up a Russian hacker group that has been likened to Ocean's Eleven in that each criminal had a specific role to play in the high-profile hacks in which they were involved.  In total, the group stole close to 30 million credit card numbers.

Smilianets and Drinkman were caught while vacationing in Amsterdam thanks to cooperation between the American Secret Service and the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit.  The Secret Service had gathered a good deal of information about Smilianets and Drinkman from data gained when they shut down DumpsMarket, an online stolen credit card bazaar, back in 2004.  They also learned a lot from data on a laptop taken from another high profile hacker in 2003.

Drinkman was very conscious about covering his tracks, while Smilianets was much less so and lived a more public, visible life.  The Secret Service was able to home in on him after he posted a picture of himself vacationing in Amsterdam.  They eventually figured out which hotel he was staying in and discovered that he had booked two rooms.  Smilianets was arrested while on a tour bus heading for Belgium, but his wife started making phone calls.  Word got to Drinkman's wife and the two started to flee, but their cab was stopped by an unmarked police car and Drinkman was arrested as well.

Smilianets has already been extradited to the United States and is awaiting a trial date in New Jersey.  Drinkman is expected to be extradited in a few weeks.  The rest of the group is suspected to be in Russia or one of the former Soviet States.