ChronoPay Co-Founder Arrested

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Russian authorities on Thursday arrested Pavel Vrublevsky, co-founder of ChronoPay, the country’s largest processor of online payments, for allegedly hiring a hacker to attack his company’s rivals.

An undated photo of Vrublevsky

Vrublevsky, 32, is probably best known as the co-owner of the Rx-Promotion rogue online pharmacy program. His company also consistently has been involved in credit card processing for — and in many cases setting up companies on behalf of — rogue anti-virus or “scareware” scams that use misleading PC security alerts in a bid to frighten people into purchasing worthless security software.

Russian state-run news organizations are reporting that Vrublevsky was arrested on June 23. Financial Times reporter Joe Menn writes that Vrublevsky was ordered held without bail and a hearing was set for a month’s time.

As I reported earlier this week, Vrublevsky fled the country after the arrest of a suspect who confessed that he was hired by Vrublevsky to launch a debilitating cyber attack against Assist, a top ChronoPay competitor. According to Russian news organizations, the ChronoPay executive wanted to sideline rival payment processing firms who were competing for a lucrative contract to process payments for Aeroflot, Russia’s largest airline. Sources close to the investigation said Vrublevsky was arrested at the Sheremetievo airport outside of Moscow as he returned from a trip to the Maldives.

The arrest comes just 24 hours after authorities seized computers and servers in the United States and seven other countries this week as part of an ongoing investigation of a hacking gang that stole $72 million via scareware scams