Latvian cyber criminal Peteris Sahurovs appeared in court in Minneapolis after he was extradited from Poland. Nicknamed Piotrek, Piotrek89, and Sagade, he was involved in hacking the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s website and causing millions of dollars in losses to internet users. He is also accused of wire fraud. Peteris was arrested in June 2011, but a Latvian court later released him. He fled to Poland where the local police captured him. Peteris was at one time the fifth most wanted cyber criminals by the FBI with an award of $50,000 for his capture.

How Peteris committed his crimes

According to the FBI's website, he committed his crimes between February and September 2010. He defrauded internet users $2 million by selling them fraudulent computer security programs. His software named Scareware was a malicious software which he marketed as legitimate to unsuspecting companies and individuals. The software was designed to falsely claim that it has detected threats on victims computers, yet the threats did not exist. Buyers were then advice to give their credit card numbers through disruptive notifications so as to pay for a fraudulent anti-virus product.

Victims were at times prevented from using their computers until they made the payments.

How he used the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s website

On February 2010, he contacted and impersonated himself as an online advertising agent. He was seeking advertisement space on the paper's website. After being granted advertisement space, he started by advertising hotels and then changed his adverts with a file that contained a malicious malware.

The malware infected the computers of those who visited the star tribute website to subsequently freeze the computers of victims making their files inaccessible. To unlock their computer, victims had to pay $49.95. He made $2 million from this hacking acts. Payment proceeds mainly went to a bank in Latvia that was controlled by him, his co-conspirator Marina Maslobojeva and others.

Investigators also suspect that he committed this crime on other online businesses.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Minneapolis field office. The prosecutors were assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota and Trial Attorney of the Criminal Divisions for computer crime and intellectual property. Others included the Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Latvian state Police, and the Polish National Police.