Russian pleads guilty to charge related to Citadel malware

ATLANTA (AP) – A Russian man who helped develop and distribute a malicious software designed to steal personal financial information has pleaded guilty to a computer fraud charge.

Mark Vartanyan entered the plea Monday in federal court in Atlanta after reaching a deal with prosecutors, who have agreed not to seek more than five years in prison.

Prosecutors say the 29-year-old was involved in the development, improvement, maintenance and distribution of Citadel, which infects computer systems and steals financial and personal identification information. Industry estimates indicate it infected about 11 million computers worldwide, causing more than $500 million in losses.

Another Russian, Dimitry Belorossov, known as Rainerfox, was sentenced in September 2015 to serve 4 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges stemming from an ongoing investigation into Citadel.

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