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The District Court of Varna, Bulgaria, has sentenced Issa Mehmed, nicknamed "The Hacker," to 4.5 years in prison for charges that include stealing funds by fraudulently accessing payment card accounts tied to financial institutions in the United States. Police arrested Mehmed and four others on Jan. 20, 2008, for siphoning more than $1 million from American accounts, according to a report by the Sofia News Agency. Between June 2003 and the time of their arrests, Mehmed and his gang had "carried out dozens of financial operations linked with draining bankcards, mainly owned by U.S. citizens in different U.S. banks," the news agency quotes from a statement released by the Varna court. Mehmed also pleaded guilty to charges of financial fraud and extortion, money laundering and running an organized crime ring, according to the report. Mehmed's sentence requires him to repay the stolen funds and to pay a fine of 5,000 Bulgarian Leva ($3,261 U.S. and 2,556 euros). The other four men, not named in the report, received lighter sentences. Officials of the Bulgarian embassy in Washington, D.C., were not available for comment today, but the embassy posted news of the arrests on its official Web site.

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