Journalist Brian Krebs has probably done more to uncover dangerous hackers and their schemes than any other reporter.
And the hackers are none too pleased with him.
Now one man, whom Krebs says tried to get him arrested for possession of heroin, has been extradited to the US and is standing trial on various hacking charges, Krebs reports.
Sergey Vovnenko is a Ukrainian citizen who was living in Italy. He is accused of running a “botnet” of 13,000 hacked computers to steal people’s bank accounts, credit cards and debit cards, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the New Jersey district.
Krebs says the man went by the online name of “Flycracker,” and is also the mastermind behind the crazy heroin-framing scheme.
The incident happened in 2013, when Krebs exposed a stolen credit card ring he said was run by Flycracker.
Flycracker responded by getting some fellow hackers to chip in some bitcoins to buy heroin from the now defunct Silk Road internet black market, Krebs reported at the time.
The hackers taped the heroin to the inside cover of a magazine and mailed it to Krebs, intending to call the police to get him busted for possession after the magazine arrived.
But Krebs haunts the same underground hacker message boards as they do and got wind of the plan. He alerted the police and foiled the scheme.
The hacker, apparently embarrassed by his failure, then sent Krebs a scary floral cross flower arrangement (the kind that would be used in a funeral), and threatened Krebs and his family, Krebs reports.
Krebs’ reaction? He set out to find the guy, he writes.
And, with the help from some friends in the security industry and other officials, Krebs was able to trace the hacker’s name to a woman who was apparently the alleged hacker’s fiancee. That led authorities to the man.
While this sounds like poetic justice, there’s another odd twist to the story.
While sitting in jail in Italy awaiting extradition, the man sent Krebs a letter which contained “a deeply personal and — I believe — heartfelt apology from Vovnenko for sending the heroin, for posting my credit report, and for otherwise terrorizing my family,” Krebs writes. The man also sent him a postcard from jail, with pictures from Italy.
“Cybercrooks have done some pretty crazy stuff to me in response to my reporting about them. But I don’t normally get this kind of closure,” Krebs said, adding that he looked “forward to meeting” with the man in person during his trial.
If convicted on all charges, Vovnenko could get up to 30 years in U.S. federal prison, the US Attorney says.