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Russian accused of running spam ring is indicted in US

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Russian man described by U.S. authorities as one of the world's most notorious criminal spammers has been indicted by a federal grand jury, officials announced Friday.

Pyotr Levashov, who was arrested in Barcelona, Spain, this month, is accused of running a computer network that sent hundreds of millions of spam emails worldwide each year. The U.S. Justice Department is seeking his extradition.

A federal grand jury in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on Thursday indicted Levashov, 36, on charges including causing intentional damage to a protected computer, accessing protected computers in furtherance of fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

An email message seeking comment was sent to an attorney for Levashov in Spain.

American authorities say Levashov commanded the sprawling Kelihos botnet, which at times allegedly involved more than 100,000 compromised computers that sent phony emails advertising counterfeit drugs, harvested users' logins and installed malware that intercepted bank account passwords.

On a typical day, the network would generate and distribute more than 2,500 spam emails, according to the indictment.

The Justice Department announced on April 10 that it had taken action to dismantle the Kelihos botnet and that Levashov had been arrested.

The FBI in Connecticut is leading the investigation with assistance from Spanish national police.