A Thai court Tuesday approved the extradition of a Ukrainian man to the United States for alleged computer crimes, including the sale of counterfeit software that deprived American companies of millions of dollars.

The extradition of Maksym Kovalchuk was ordered by Bangkok's criminal court, an official at the Thai attorney general's office said on condition of anonymity.

Kovalchuk, 25, of Ternopil, Ukraine, was arrested May 20 in downtown Bangkok. He was carrying documents identifying him as Maksym Vysochanskyy.

He has denied all charges.

In a criminal complaint filed in San Jose, California in 2000, Kovalchuk was charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods, copyright infringement, money laundering and possession of unauthorised credit card information.

The US attorney's office for northern California had sought his extradition.

It alleged Kovalchuk sold counterfeit copies of software titles from companies such as Microsoft, Autodesk, Adobe and Macromedia through various websites. The retail value of the products pirated and sold, had they been authentic, would have been US$3mil (RM11.4mil), authorities said.

However, a US Secret Service officer in Bangkok, James Gehr, had said when Kovalchuk was arrested that he had caused more than US$100mil (RM380mil) in losses.

A US Embassy spokesman in Bangkok has previously said Kovalchuk pioneered a new form of Internet theft and account takeover known as web-spoofing.

"This web-spoofing activity has accelerated identity-based Internet crimes in the United States and internationally," the spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity.

The programs contained computer codes which granted him "a backdoor" to businesses that installed the programs on their computers, posing "a huge danger" to their financial security, the spokesman said.

Kovalchuk faces 20 years imprisonment and a US$500,000 (RM1.9mil) if convicted of money laundering, the most serious charge he faces.

Source: TechCentral

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