A suspected Russian "master hacker" and notorious credit card scammer is set to stand trial in the US for reportedly playing a prominent role in a five-year hacking spree that netted $170m (£132m) in illicit profits by selling stolen credentials on the Dark Web.
According to prosecutors, 32-year-old Roman Seleznev hacked into hundreds of point-of-sale (PoS) systems and installed malware to help steal "more than two million" credit card numbers between October 2009 and July 2014.
However, his hacking activities date back further than 2009. Five years ago, Seleznev was indicted on 29 charges relating to his alleged role in the 2008 hack of the Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS) WorldPay service which resulted in the loss of over $9m from 2,100 ATMs across the US.
For years, Seleznev – who is the son of Russian MP Valery Seleznev - had been wanted by the US authorities on hacking-related charges however as Russia has no extradition treaty with America he could not be prosecuted.
This was until 2014 when he was arrested by the US Secret Service in the Maldives while attempting to travel to Russia with his girlfriend. Seleznev is now facing a 40-count indictment after 11 new offences were added that included wire and bank fraud, hacking and identity theft.
Prosecutors said the hacker used various computer aliases over the course of his career as a cybercriminal. Between the peroid of 2002 and 2009 he operated under the nickname 'nCuX', which is the Russian word for 'psycho'. After law enforcement got close, he switched to 'Track2' in 2009, and then in 2013 he went by the nom de guerre '2Pac'.
With the trial now set to begin, the prosecution has gathered a number of witnesses from affected US businesses – of which a large number were pizza firms. These include Mad Pizza, ZPizza, Village Pizza and Casa Mia alongside a slew of other restaurants.
Speaking to the Associated Press (AP), Steve Bussing, who is the owner of one of businesses targeted in Seleznev's scheme, said it cost him $10,000 (£7,740) to install a new computer system after their system was compromised by hackers. "It was a huge expense," he added.
AP stated that federal prosecutors had branded Roman Seleznev a "leader in the marketplace for stolen credit card numbers". The trial is expected to last for more than two weeks and, if found guilty, Seleznez faces over 60 years in prison.
Seleznev's lawyers are arguing that evidence in the case is inadequate. According to a report on Sputnik News, which is closely linked to the Russian state, Seleznev's lawyers are planning to argue the US prosecution has failed to adequately connect Seleznev with the computer hacks.
"We have three experts, we have two of the best experts in world [...] helping us and saying that the government's evidence is corrupt basically and not reliable, said Seleznev's lawyer John Henry Browne.