THE HAGUE, Netherlands >> A Dutch judge on Tuesday approved the extradition to the U.S. of a Russian suspected of involvement in a multimillion-dollar computer hack.
The ruling at The Hague District Court clears the way for Vladimir Drinkman to be sent to New Jersey, where he is one of four Russians and a Ukrainian charged in a sophisticated data breach that netted at least 160 million credit and debit card numbers and resulted in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars over seven years.
Drinkman’s lawyer, Bart Stapert, appealed against extradition, saying it could lead to the Russian being prosecuted in other U.S. states, which would breach the U.S.-Netherlands extradition treaty.
He added that the Dutch government didn’t adequately weigh up a Russian extradition request for Drinkman and that the extradition would breach Drinkman’s rights because he would no longer be able to see his wife and 3-year-old daughter, who live in Russia.
But the judge rejected the arguments, saying it was reasonable to approve the American request before the Russian request.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Drinkman would seek another avenue of appeal.
Drinkman was arrested in the Netherlands in June 2012 and has been fighting extradition ever since.
U.S. attorneys have called the case the largest hacking and data breach ever prosecuted in the United States.
Heartland Payment Systems Inc., which processes credit and debit cards for small to mid-sized businesses, was identified as taking the biggest hit in a scheme starting in 2007 — the theft of more than 130 million card numbers at a loss of about $200 million.
People who bought credit and debit card numbers and data from the hackers resold them to “cashers,” the indictment said. Cashers would copy the information onto the magnetic strips of blank plastic cards and cash out the value, by either withdrawing money from ATMs in the case of debit cards, or running up charges and purchasing goods in the case of credit cards.