Third Suspect Identified in Bloomberg Case

FRAMINGHAM (08/18/2000) - The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan has unsealed a third complaint in the case of computer crackers from Kazakhstan who allegedly tried to extort US$200,000 from financial and news impresario Michael Bloomberg in exchange for not exploiting security holes in his Web site.

Elena Gorokhova was an employee at Kazomerts Security in Almaty, Kazakhstan, a company given access to Bloomberg database services last year through Open Bloomberg, according to the report by U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent David P. Marziliano. The agent said Gorokhova was also the registered owner of the cellular phone used to call the London branch of Deutsche Bank AG, where the suspects were told they could verify that Bloomberg had deposited $200,000 in the extortion attempt.

Like the two other extortion suspects, Oleg Zezov, 27, and an accomplice, Igor Yarimaka, 37, Gorokhova is from Almaty.

The men were arrested by London police at the Hilton Hotel in London on Aug. 10 at the behest of the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in New York. The two men are in custody in London, awaiting extradition.

A lawyer from the New York state's attorney's office, Paul Radbany, confirmed that a complaint had been filed against Gorokhova, but would not say whether she had been arrested.

"A lot more companies are definitely going to fall prey to extortion," said Ira Winkler, president of the Internet Security Advisors Group in Severna Park, Md., and author of Corporate Espionage.

If companies can't maintain their security, they will become targets for crackers, who will go after companies that they know have ready funds.

"It doesn't sound like the people [in the Bloomberg case] were very mature and that's the point," Winkler said. "Anyone with a computer and a lot of time on their hands," can do this. And, the more time they have on their hands, the more daring and demanding they will likely become.

The fact they went to a U.S.-friendly country for the meeting proves how naive they are, he said, "They should have at least gone to Cyprus or something like that."

Zezov allegedly e-mailed Bloomberg on March 24 and indicated that he knew of some holes in the Bloomberg.com news site. Bloomberg then contacted the FBI, which launched a sting operation that included Bloomberg, according to the complaint. The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in New York, where Bloomberg.com's servers are located.

Gorokhova, Zezov and Yarimaka were charged with three counts of threats, extortion and unauthorized computer intrusion.

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