Alexander Panin SpyEye
Alexander Panin, who was arrested in the Dominican Republic in June 2013, is set to be charged by federal authorities in the US with being part of a gang which robbed bank accounts via the Internet. Screengrab/RT

According to security researcher and journalist Brian Krebs, federal authorities in Atlanta are preparing to charge 24-year-old Alexander Panin with being part of a gang which robbed millions of dollars from bank accounts via the internet.

Panin, who comes from the Russian town of Tver, is allegedly the author and operator of the SpyEye malware, which has been used in a number of online scams against both businesses and consumers.

Panin was arrested in the Dominican Republic last June by the US authorities and transferred to a US jail without the consent or knowledge of the Russian authorities. It led to a diplomatic spat between the two countries with the deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry Information and Press Department, Maria Zakharova telling Russian broadcaster RT at the time:

"Of course, we are seriously concerned about the fact that it again concerns the arrest of a Russian citizen with a US warrant in a third country. We think the fact that such practices are becoming a vicious tendency is absolutely unacceptable and inadmissible."

Interpol's Red List

Panin was at the time on Interpol's "red list" of most-wanted criminals according to RT, wanted on charged of embezzlement though internet banking thefts totalling over $5 million.

Panin's mother also spoke to RT at the time of his arrest, saying she didn't believe her son was guilty of what he is being accused of:

"He is interested in computers, but mostly he is a person of science. I can believe that he wrote a computer program, that's what he does. He develops software, but I can't believe what he is accused of," she said.


SpyEye is a piece of malware which allows those using it to create huge botnets - networks of zombie computers - which can be controlled centrally to carry out cyber-attacks.

In March 2013 Microsoft led a campaign to take a large number of the SpyEye botnets offline as well as making public details such as email addresses associated with the author of SpyEye - who was known by the nicknames Gribodemon and Harderman.

According to the SpyEye Tracker website, the action by Microsoft in March 2013 saw activations of the SpyEye malware fall dramatically and it hasn't returned significantly since.