TAMPA — A Russian national accused of using a malicious software program to steal login credentials for thousands of computers worldwide and selling the information online now sits in the Pinellas County Jail.
Dariy Pankov, 28, was arrested in October in the Republic of Georgia. He was extradited this week to face federal charges in Tampa of conspiracy, access device fraud and computer fraud.
Pankov appeared Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Christopher Tuite, who ordered him to remain jailed while he awaits trial.
He was charged in Tampa because at least two of the victims in his case are Florida law firms, according to an indictment. Neither firm is named in court records.
The indictment alleges that Pankov developed a malicious software program called “NLBrute.” Commonly known as “malware,” the program used what’s described as a “brute force attack” to crack computer login credentials.
Pankov advertised NLBrute for sale in an unnamed online forum dedicated to computer hacking, according to the indictment. He also allowed other people to sell the program on his behalf.
People who bought the program were required to use bitcoin on WebMoney, a Russian payment processing platform, the indictment states.
Pankov listed for sale the login credentials of more than 35,000 computers, according to the indictment. Between 2016 and 2019, he made more than $350,000 from sales of the stolen information, federal prosecutors said.
The indictment describes his online activities, stating that in 2016 he told one person he had access to the login credentials for about 3,000 computers in the U.S., France, the U.K., Italy and Australia. He said he could obtain more.
On Jan. 2, 2018, Pankov listed for sale the login credentials of a Florida law firm, the indictment states. The price was $50.
An undercover law enforcement officer saw the listing and bought the firm’s credentials. Two months later, an undercover officer purchased the NLBrute program for $250 from a person the indictment refers to as “conspirator #1.”
In June 2018, Pankov listed for sale the credentials of a second Florida law firm, the indictment states. The price this time was $19.25.
An undercover officer again noticed and made the purchase.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the IRS.
Pankov faces seven federal charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 47 years in prison.