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MOSCOW, July 28 - RIA Novosti. The Russian police have detained several members of an international group of DDoS (distributed denial of service) attackers who assaulted servers of British banks and bookmakers, chief of the Interior Ministry K Department responsible for fighting high-tech crime Yevgeny Yakimovich told reporters on Wednesday.

"In April Department K of the Interior Ministry was briefed that unidentified persons had applied hostile software to perform DDoS attacks on servers of nine British banks and bookmakers," Yakimovich said.

According to him, later British banks and bookmakers received e-mail demands to pay the attackers $5,000 to $50,000 for the attacks to be ceased. Several companies in Great Britain conceded to pay $40,000 each.

The Russian police found, Yakimovich went on, that the attacks were directed from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the town of Balakovo, Saratov region.

"We have disclosed an organized criminal group where everyone had a specific function. Its participants had staged DDoS attacks and received money the foreign companies transferred to the villains' accounts," he said.

Yakimovich estimated the total damages of foreign companies and banks at "40 million pounds."

"On July 20 and 22 several participants of the criminal group were arrested in different Russian cities," he said.

He said that the detainees had admitted the existence of an international criminal group staging DDoS attacks via the Internet.

"[The criminals] are not only Russians - some of them come from other countries," Yakimovich said.

The high-tech watchdog chief said in addition that the police were discovering for other persons involved in the attacks.

"Any firm or company that has access to the Internet is subject to a DDoS attack," he warned.

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