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SAN FRANCISCO — For years Pyotr Levashov, aka Peter Severa, was known to authorities as one of the world’s most prolific spam kingpins.
Levashov, who lived in St. Petersburg, travelled freely under a lifestyle so lavish that one fellow Russian hacker told BuzzFeed News he “would have embarrassed an oligarch.” Last week, he was arrested in Barcelona while vacationing with his family under an international warrant at the request of the US.
Normally, the arrest of a spammer wouldn’t illicit international headlines, no matter how prolific. But over the weekend Levashov’s wife told the Russian state-owned broadcaster Russia Today that her husband’s arrest was due to his involvement in a “computer virus” which was “linked to Trump’s win.” Immediately, online forums were abuzz that one of the Fancy Bears — a group of Russian, government-linked hackers — had been caught.
Yet the arrest of Levashov, a well-known figure in cybercriminal circles, has less to do with the..