Neighborly tip leads Hampton police to money collectors for Russian cyber-ransom hackersBy JAMES A. KIMBLE
Union Leader Correspondent
March 06. 2015 6:20PM
HAMPTON -- A Russian national was sentenced to three years in federal prison for using the mailboxes of vacant homes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts to launder profits from computer hackers.
Alekski Shushliannikov, 23, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boston on charges that he used bogus debit cards to launder money that came from the victim's of computer hackers.
Shushliannikov was first stopped and questioned by Hampton police on Feb. 11, 2013. His arrest led to the discovery of a region wide operation that Shushliannikov and his roommate used to reap profits through bogus debit cards mailed to empty homes throughout New England, according to court records.
When investigators searched Shushliannikov's apartment, they found 246 prepaid debit cards, $26,000 in cash and a money counting machine.
Police say that Shushliannikov and his partner had opened about 1,100 prepaid debit cards and laundered somewhere between $400,000 and $1 million before they were caught.
A resident spotted the 23-year-old removing mail from a home on Playhouse Circle in Hampton and called police. Officers stopped Shushliannikov and became suspicious of his story about being lost once they spotted envelopes with 17 debit and credit cards and a GPS in his vehicle.
Shushliannikov pleaded guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of using a fictitious name and address in connection with the U.S. mail and one count of identity fraud.
An investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service revealed that computer hackers would use a virus to take over an unsuspecting victim's computer. The victims would be told that their computer would be restored if they bought a MoneyPak, a service which allows people to transfer funds to a prepaid debit card.
Police said the hackers sometimes posed as FBI agents and claimed they were freezing a victim's computer as part of a law enforcement action. The fake agent would then tell the victim they could pay a fine via MoneyPak.
Shushliannikov and his partner were buying the MoneyPak accounts over the Internet, and using bogus debit cards they had had sent to houses like the one in Hampton so they could cash out the money anonymously, according to police.
Shushliannikov would use abandoned houses or ones with for sale signs out front, police said.