A Russian accused of running a website that helped people commit more than $20 million in credit-card fraud has been extradited to Virginia to face criminal charges.
Twenty-nine-year-old Aleksei Burkov made an initial appearance in Alexandria on Tuesday after being extradited from Israel. Russian officials objected to his extradition.
The federal indictment says Burkov ran a website called Cardplanet that let people buy stolen credit-card numbers for anywhere from $3 to $60. People used the numbers to make more than $20 million in fraudulent purchases. Prosecutors say Burkov even offered a money-back guarantee if a stolen card number no longer worked.
Israeli officials have suggested Russia sought Burkov’s release by offering an exchange for Naama Issachar, a 26-year-old Israeli woman who received a seven-year prison sentence in Moscow on marijuana charges.
Israeli Justice Minister Amir Ohana explained the government’s reason for complying with the U.S. request over that of Russia in an interview with Kan: “I suggest not creating a very dangerous precedent here, that each time there is a country that wants to have someone extradited, it captures an Israeli and makes a scapegoat of them.”
Issachar’s family had initially opposed the extradition to the U.S. on the grounds that it would harm their daughter’s chances for being released at an early date. However, they subsequently withdrew their protest, and the Israeli government has promised to continue pressing Russian authorities to let her go.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a formal request to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking to pardon Issachar. Moscow would only say that Putin would consider the request.