Prolific Russian credit-card hacker gets 27 years

A federal judge in Seattle Friday sentenced prolific Russian payment-card hacker Roman Seleznev to 27 years in prison — the longest sentence for computer crime ever imposed in an American court.
U.S. courthouse sign in Seattle (Getty)

A federal judge in Seattle sentenced prolific Russian hacker Roman Seleznev to 27 years in prison — the longest sentence for computer crime ever imposed in an American court.

Prosecutors had asked for 30 years, saying Seleznev had personally helped create the multibillion-dollar market for stolen data, hacking dozens of small businesses and selling millions of sets of credit-card numbers on automated websites authorities likened to an Amazon-type marketplace for cybercriminals.

In court Friday, prosecutors compared him to a “Tony Soprano-style mob boss,” according to the Seattle Times.

Seleznev, who was seized by U.S. Secret Service agents in the Maldives in July 2014, is the son of Valery Seleznev, an outspoken member of the Russian parliament, a supporter of the ultra-nationalist party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky and a close political ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.


The elder Seleznev and Russian government officials have described the capture as a “kidnapping” — noting that the agents had no jurisdiction in the Maldives and that Seleznev was not formally arrested until he arrived in Guam on a private plane specially chartered by federal authorities.

In a 35-page sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said Seleznev tried to game the system — “burning through” six sets of attorneys — and refused to admit his guilt until “hopelessly cornered.” They said Seleznev has had plenty of opportunities to reconsider his life of crime, but chose to return to it every time.

He was convicted on 38 counts last August.

In a handwritten note submitted to the court this year, and posted by the New York Times, Seleznev admitted to his guilt, and apologized for his crimes. “I am alive today and I thank God and the United States of America government,” he wrote. “I was going down a very deadly road before my arrest.”

Read the full sentencing memorandum here.

Shaun Waterman

Written by Shaun Waterman

Contact the reporter on this story via email, or follow him on Twitter @WatermanReports. Subscribe to CyberScoop to get all the cybersecurity news you need in your inbox every day at

Latest Podcasts