Russia is Eating its Young

Russian con artist Pavel Vrublevsky, the founder of the dark web payment firm (credit card processor) ChronoPay and the antagonist in Brian Krebs’ 2014 book Spam Nation, was arrested in Moscow this month for fraud.

In Brian’s book, he talks about the fraudulent money laundering and SMS payment schemes that Vrublevsky operated.

ChronoPay “specializes” in providing access to the global credit card network to “high risk” (AKA criminal) merchants.

Krebs started writing about Vrublevsky in 2009 when Brian was still a writer at the Washington Post.

In 2013 he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for convincing one of his associates to launch a denial of service attack against a competitor. Unfortunately, it also took Russia’s state-owned airline Aeroflot’s ticketing system down.

After he got out of jail he started a new payment platform, based in Hong Kong.

Likely what got him in trouble is this.

He had a habit of documenting everything. Unfortunately, it was on a Confluence server.

Not only did his “autobiography” document all of his shell companies and scams, but it also documented all of the bribes that he made to corrupt FSB officers. It also named other Russian hackers. The guy who gave Brian the stolen autobiography was Vladislav Horohorin, who served four years in a U.S. prison for his part in a 2009 very public breach of millions from global credit card processor Worldpay.

Turns out Horohorin is Ukrainian (surprise), but also, he told Brian, that Vrublevsky threatened a family member. Not a good plan. My guess is that he not only gave the info to Krebs, but also to the FSB. Payback, no doubt. Do not threaten my family. Does this sound like the plot for a soap opera?

At that point, the Russians were trying to do damage control. They probably had no way of knowing how many other people Horohorin “shared” that information with. Or, who the source was.

Interestingly, these guys and other Russian criminals are all willing to talk to Krebs and give him a lot of dirt.

Given all of the crap that is going on in Russia right now, it seems like even the FSB has better things to do, but clearly, he ticked off the wrong person. Or persons.

Check out the rest of the saga at Brian’s blog, here.

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