Karim Baratov, a Canadian citizen who the U.S. accused of helping Russian intelligence operatives hack Yahoo accounts in 2014, is expected to plead guilty next week, Reuters reports.
Baratov recently waived his right to fight the request for extradition from Canada and will appear in federal court in San Franciso this coming Tuesday.
The 22-year old Baratov is a Canadian citizen who was born in Kazakhstan. Last March, Canadian law enforcement arrested him at the request of U.S. prosecutors, alleging that he helped with the 2014 Yahoo breach.
In March, the Department of Justice filed charges against Baratov and three other men for their part in the 2014 theft. Two of the men were part of Russia’s Federal Security Service. The information obtained from the reports implies that the Russian agents were the ringleaders of the operation. Alexsey Belan, one of the FBI’s most wanted cybercriminals, was the one who carried out the actual hack of Yahoo’s server.
Baratov was apparently brought on when it was discovered that victims of the hack had non-Yahoo email addresses. Baratov is alleged to have hacked at least 80 non-Yahoo email accounts, with 50 of those hacked accounts reported to be Gmail accounts.
As of right now, the exact targets of the hack have not been revealed, but we do know the FSB agents sought information on Russian officials, a wealthy banker, and the leader of a metals company.
Despite the charges, Baratov is the only culprit to have been arrested in relation to this case. In August, he pleaded not guilty to several charges including “conspiring to commit computer fraud, conspiring to commit access device fraud, conspiring to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.”
It is unclear what charges Baratov will be pleading guilty to on Tuesday, though court records indicate that the hearing will be a “change of plea” hearing overseen by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria.
It is currently unknown why Baratov is changing his plea. It is possible that he worked out a deal with prosecutors, which would make sense, given that he appears to be one of the least important actors in this hack.
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