Despite U.S. efforts, web crimes thrive

Tuesday, 20 May 2003, 6:13 PM EST

Here in his hometown, Michael is a respected computer programmer. In the United States, he's a wanted man.

Two and a half years ago, his former boss Vasiliy Gorshkov and co-worker Alexey Ivanov were arrested for hacking and extorting a string of American businesses. Michael, who spoke on the condition that he be identified only by an English translation of his first name, said he helped them.

Shortly after his associates were captured, the FBI determined that Michael might be part of the same hacking ring and tried to go after him, too. An agent sent him an e-mail telling him what had happened to Gorshkov and Ivanov and asking him what he knew about the men's criminal activities. Michael responded that by tricking the two men to travel to Seattle so they could be arrested, the agency had just started a war.

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