san francisco - A Canadian of Russian origin has admitted that he was involved in hacking thousands of e-mail accounts for the Russian secret service. Against payment he cracked the passwords of people in whom Russian spies were interested.
22-year-old Karim Baratov, aka Kay, has confessed to a court in California where he has been charged. The US Department of Justice announced it on Wednesday.
Apart from Baratov, three other Russians have been charged. They would be responsible for hacking hundreds of millions of mail accounts with Yahoo. If they wanted access to mail accounts at other companies, including Yandex and Google, they ended up with Baratov. According to the complaint, he has cracked more than 11,000 mail addresses for them. Who the victims are is not known.
Baratov was arrested in Canada in March and then extradited. He often used the same way. He pretended to mail on behalf of Google, for example, lured a target to a counterfeit site and then asked to fill in user names and passwords. He communicated that information to his Russian clients.
Baratov has reached a settlement with the prosecutors. He is fined more than 2 million dollars (1.9 million euros) and has to pay compensation. In February, he hears if he also gets a prison sentence.
The three other defendants are still fugitive. They are probably in Russia itself.