Peter Levashov

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Peter Levashov
Петр Юрьевич Левашов
Peter Severa Levashov.png
Peter Yuryevich Levashov

1980 (age 42–43)[1]
Other namesPetr Levashov, Peter Severa, Petr Severa, Sergey Astakhov[2]
Known foralleged operation of the Kelihos botnet
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

Peter Levashov is a Russian spammer and virus creator. He was described by The Spamhaus Project as one of the longest functioning criminal spam operators on the internet. In July 2021, a US federal judge overruled government recommendations for a 12 to 14.5 year prison sentence, giving a sentence instead of time served, with three years of supervision. Levashov remains in the US, having started a business called SeveraDAO.


Levashov, born in 1980, graduated in 1997 from the Saint Petersburg High School No. 30 of Math and Science. He started a bulk-mailing service, registered to his own name, in 2002. [1]

Levashov (as "Peter Severa, age unknown, of Russia") is alleged to have worked with US spammer Alan Ralsky, who was indicted in 2008 and later jailed for spam email promotions for pump and dump" schemes.[1][3]

Levashov was described by Spamhaus as "[o]ne of the longest operating criminal spam-lords on the internet," who collaborated with many other Eastern European and U.S. based botnet spammers, as well as American spammer Alan Ralsky.[4] Peter Levashov was arrested by Spanish officials while in Barcelona, at the request of the United States Department of Justice.[5] He was suspected by the United States of being the kingpin behind the Kelihos botnet and was extradited to the United States, arriving on 2 February 2018. Russia had filed a competing extradition request, but the Spanish high court in October 2017 approved Levashov’s extradition to the U.S., rejecting the Russian counterclaim.[6][7]

Criminal case[edit]

The case was U.S. v. Levashov, 17-mj-448, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut (Bridgeport).,[8] assigned to Robert N. Chatigny, Senior United States District Judge in Hartford.[9] Levashov initially pleaded not guilty to the charges.[10] According to his lawyer, Petya [Pyotr] Levashov was detained in a Bridgeport, Connecticut prison until at least 5 February 2018.[11] As of July 2021, he had been out of prison on electronic monitoring since January 2020.[12] Levashov ultimately "pleaded guilty to one count of causing intentional damage to a protected computer, one count of conspiracy, one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft" according to the U.S. Department of Justice[13] and confirmed by media reports.[12]

An affidavit unsealed on February 5, 2018, showed Apple’s unexpected role in bringing Levashov to justice. He allegedly ran the Kelihos botnet under the alias “Severa,” renting out access to spammers and other cybercriminals. Despite Levashov’s significant efforts at anonymity, court records show that federal agents had been surveilling his iCloud account since May 20, 2016, funneling back crucial information that may have led to his arrest.[14]

According to RFE/RL, which cited Levashov's testimony on behalf of the US government in the June, 2021 court case against Oleg Koshkin, Levashov cooperated with the FBI during his imprisonment in the hope of a sentence reduction.[15] Levashov was released from jail on bond in January 2020 and remained free until his sentencing 18 moths later.[15]

Although prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of at least 12 years, Levashov was released in July, 2021, with federal judge Robert Chatigny saying that the 33 months he had already spent in prison was "a long time."[16][17] Levashov was additionally ordered to serve 3 years of supervised release.[12]

Subsequent career[edit]

Since then, Levashov has been working on a new venture, which he calls SeveraDAO, whose goals include teaching computers how to pick stocks.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Russian man wanted by US alleged to be prolific spam master". Financial Post. Associated Press. Jul 28, 2017. Retrieved April 30, 2023. Born in 1980, Levashov studied at High School No. 30 , one of the first schools in the Soviet Union to specialize in computer programming
  2. ^ "Russian Hacker Pleads Guilty to Operating Kelihos Botnet". The Hacker News. September 13, 2018. Retrieved April 30, 2023. Levashov, also known by many online aliases including Peter Severa, Petr Levashov, Petr Severa and Sergey Astakhov, has admitted of operating several botnets, including the Storm, Waledac and Kelihos botnets, since the late 1990s until he was arrested in April 2017.
  3. ^ "Alan Ralsky, Ten Others, Indicted In International Illegal Spamming And Stock Fraud Scheme". U.S. Department of Justice. 2008-01-03. Retrieved 2008-01-04.
  4. ^ "Peter Severa / Peter Levashov". The Spamhaus Project. The Spamhaus Project. Retrieved April 29, 2023. One of the longest operating criminal spam-lords on the internet. Works with many other Eastern Euro and US based botnet spammers. Was a partner of American spammer Alan Ralsky.
  5. ^ Kramer, Andrew. "Spain Arrests Russian Thought to Be Kingpin of Computer Spam". New York Times. Retrieved 11 April 2017. Spamhaus, a group that tracks spammers, has for years listed Peter Severa as among the top 10 perpetrators in the world, and has identified him as Mr. Levashov.
  6. ^ "A New Russian Ploy: Competing Extradition Requests". The New York Times. December 20, 2017. Retrieved April 30, 2023. At the agency's request, Spanish security officers in April arrested the man, Pyotr Y. Levashov...But then the Russian authorities sprang a trap of their own, filing an extradition request with the Spanish authorities for a crime they said Mr. Levashov had committed in Russia years ago.
  7. ^ "Russian Extradited to U.S. to Face Cybercrime Charges Pleads Not Guilty". The Wall Street Journal. February 2, 2018. Retrieved April 30, 2023. A Russian programmer who had been arrested in Spain in a high-profile case that pitted the U.S. against Russia on Friday pleaded not guilty to charges of running a vast network of computers for criminal purposes.
  8. ^ "Russian Spammer Claiming Kremlin Ties Is in U.S. Facing Feds". Bloomberg. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Alleged Operator of Kelihos Botnet Extradited From Spain". Retrieved 2018-02-03.
  10. ^ "Russian accused of running spam network extradited to US". Deutsche Welle. 3 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Russian programmer charged with hacking in US says he's not guilty". CrimeRussia. 3 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  12. ^ a b c "U.S. Judge Sentences Notorious Russian Spammer To Time Served". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 26 July 2021.
  13. ^ U.S. Attorney's Office District of Connecticut (14 December 2018). "Multi Victim Case Notification". U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  14. ^ "Feds tracked down Russian spam kingpin with help from his iCloud account". The Verge. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  15. ^ a b "How A Convicted Russian Cybercriminal Made $6,000 A Month Helping The FBI". RFERL. December 22, 2021. Retrieved July 31, 2022. Levashov was released from custody on bond in January 2020, pending his final sentencing, which came 18 months later. In a follow-up exchange with RFE/RL, Levashov contradicted his earlier court testimony, saying "the U.S. government never paid my living expenses." He said his family had been paying his expenses. But he also confirmed he received some money for computer work he said he did for the government in Connecticut.
  16. ^ a b "This Infamous Russian Hacker Wants Your Crypto Investment". Time Magazine. December 23, 2021. Retrieved April 21, 2023. Prosecutors asked the court to send Levashov to prison for at least 12 years. But in July[2021], Judge Robert Chatigny sentenced Levashov to the 33 months he had already served in jail, plus three years of supervised release.
  17. ^ "Federal Judge Sentences Russian Spammer to Time Served". Courthouse News Service. July 20, 2021. Retrieved April 21, 2023. On Tuesday afternoon, saying he was impressed with Levashov's "prompt and complete acceptance of responsibility," U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny sentenced the Russian national to time served. "Thirty-three months is a long time and I'm sure it was especially difficult for you considering you were away from your wife and child, away from home," Chatigny said.

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