Credit cards
MasterCard and VISA credit cards with Russian rouble banknotes are seen in this picture illustration Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev/Illustration

A US federal court has convicted the son of a Russian MP of hacking into hundreds of businesses to steal credit card information and orchestrating a global hacking ring that netted him millions of dollars. Dubbed by prosecutors as "one of the most prolific credit card thieves in history", 32-year-old Roman Seleznev - also known as "Track2" - was found guilty by a Seattle federal jury on 38 of 40 counts including wire fraud, intentional damage to a protected computer, aggravated identity theft and possession of 15 or more unauthorised access devices.

The conviction came after a 10-year-long investigation by the US Secret Service that first began tracking his activities in 2005.

Between October 2009 and October 2013, Seleznev allegedly hacked into retail point-of-sale (PoS) systems and installed malware to swipe millions of credit card numbers from businesses in the US and around the world, particularly pizza restaurants in Washington state, and sell them on underground internet forums.

The son of Russian MP, Valery Seleznev, who is an ally of President Vladimir Putin, Seleznev's exploits resulted in almost $170m in credit card losses, prosecutors said. They also said he stole and sold more than 2.9 million credit card numbers.

Wanted by US authorities for years, Seleznev could not be prosecuted since Russia has no extradition treaty with the US.

When he was arrested in July 2014 in the Maldives, the agency said his laptop contained over 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers. It included additional evidence that linked him to the various servers, email accounts and financial transactions involved in the massive scheme, prosecutors said.

However, one of his lawyers, John Henry Browne, said he plans to appeal and challenge what he says was an illegal arrest in the Maldives and a subsequent ruling that allowed prosecutors to allegedly introduce evidence from the seized "corrupted laptop". Another one of the Seleznev's attorneys, Emma Scanlan, said there was no definitive proof tying her client to the cybercrimes.

"We don't have a single proof of Roman in front of the computers," Scanlan said, Bloomberg reports.

Russian authorities sharply criticised the arrest at the time, describing it as a "kidnapping". Seleznev's father also claimed that the arrest was a form of retaliation for Russia's harbouring of NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden.

"For all I know they may be demanding a ransom tomorrow or try to exchange him for Snowden or somebody," Mr Seleznev told Russia Today at the time. "One can only wonder." He also maintained that his son has not been proficient in computers since he was injured in a 2011 bomb blast in Marrakech, Morocco.

Scheduled to be sentenced on 2 December, Seleznev faces nearly 40 years in prison and is still facing similar charges in Nevada and Georgia.