Latvian charged in Gozi virus case pleads guilty

One of the hackers behind the infamous Gozi virus pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in a federal court on Friday afternoon.

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Deniss Calovskis, a Latvian citizen, wrote part of the code responsible for infecting at least 40,000 U.S. computers, including 160 that belonged to NASA. He was arrested in 2012 and extradited to the United States earlier this year.

Calovskis was arrested in 2012 and extradited to the United States earlier this year.

The Department of Justice called the virus "one of the most financially destructive computer viruses in history.”

Gozi stole tens of millions of dollars from bank accounts around the world by smuggling itself onto hard drives in a benign PDF, then collecting bank account usernames, passwords and other security information. Hackers would then use the information to fraudulently transfer money out of victims’ bank accounts.

Calovskis is alleged to have written the portion of code that tricked victims into handing over personal information.

According to the Department of Justice, U.S. security experts discovered the virus in Europe in 2007, where it remained “virtually undetectable on the computers it infected.” Gozi spread to the United States around 2010.

The other two suspects charged in the scheme are also in custody.

Apparent mastermind Nikita Vladimirovich Kuzmin pleaded guilty in 2011 and has cooperated with the investigation. Mihai Ionut Paunescu was arrested in Romania in 2012, but has not appeared in the U.S. to face charges. 

Sentencing for Calovskis is scheduled for Dec. 14.