Romeo Stepanenko, 3W3RR

A QSL-Galerie / QSL Gallery

B Rufzeichen / Call Signs

Provisorische Liste / Work in progress


Short list of Romeo's Call Signs
1S0RR, 1S0XV, 1S1RR, 3W3RR/UF6F (earthquake rescue operation), 3W3RR/mm (South China Sea), 3W5JA, 3W7A, 3W8AA, 3W100HCM, 4J1FM, 4J1FW, 4J0Q, 4L/AH0M, 4U1ITU, 4U1VIC, 5A0RR, 9D0RR, 9H3UP, 9H50VE, 9Y4/AH0M, AH0M, AH0M/am (Bermuda Triangle perambulation), AH0M/VE2, AH0M/VE3, AH0M/W4 (Dry Tortugas Isl.), BY1PK, DL/AH0M, EK0JA, EK0RR/am (hot air balloon), EK0RR/mm (Russian Navy submarine), EW8TJ, FJ/AH0M, FS/AH0M, HB0/3W3RR, HB9/AH0M, IT9/AH0M (Etna volcano), J37/AH0M, J6/AH0M, JA3ZTN, JI1ZTA, KP2/AH0M, KP4/AH0M, LZ1KDP, LZ9A, LZ/AH0M, OE/AH0M, OK8ERR, OM9CRR, P5RS7, PJ2/AH0M, PJ7/AH0M, R3A (Russian Parliament, 20-21 August 1991), RB4JWS/UF1O (South Ossetia), RB4JWS/UF1Q (Adzharia), RB4JWS/UF1V (Abkhazia), RO/3W3RR (Pridnestrovie), S79R, TA1/3W3RR, TA2/3W3RR, UB5JRR, UB5JRR/UA6E (Mount Elbrus), UB5JRR/UA6X, UQ1GWW, V2A/AH0M, VP2E/AH0M, VP2M/AH0M, VP2M/AH0M/am (helicopter), VP5/AH0M, XE2/AH0M, XV2A, XV0SU, XV100HCM, XY0RR, YA0RR, YL1WW, YL75ID (Island of Death), as well as the guest operations courtesy to the friends' & clubs' hospitality worldwide: 5B4, 8Q7, 9H1, 9H4, A41, A61, AP2, DL, EA, EI, EP, ES, G, I, HA, HB9, HB0, JA, OE, OK, PA, SP, UA1-0, UC2, UD6, UH8, UI8, UL7, UO5, TA, VE2-3, VO2, VU2, W1-8, YK, YL, YO
Detailed list of Romeo's Call Signs ► Mehr/read on

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C The early years

C The early yearszoomRomeo Stepanenko was born 1964 in the Ukraine, son of Vladimir Stepanenko UB1RR who most probably introduced him to amateur radio. Nothing is known, to date, of Romeo's childhood and youth, or of his military service. Nor do we know where and when he obtained his license.
His own accounts start in early 1989:

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1989: 3W3RR, Vietnam

1989: 3W3RR, VietnamzoomRomeo, meanwhile, had enrolled with a joint Soviet-Vietnamese company, Kiulong, and on that firm's payroll went to Vietnam, in late 1989.
The Minister of telecommunications of that country wanted to create an Amateur Radio Society; so, after a little thinking, I accepted a job to conduct courses for new hams, create a club station, produce rules and regulations for the Vietnamese. During the day I taught my hams-to-be; at night I got on the air and operated" 3W3RR.

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April/May 1990: 1S0XV/1S1RR, Spratly

April/May 1990: 1S0XV/1S1RR, SpratlyzoomExpedition-Video: hier - YouTube video here: : secure linkext. Link -- Quoting from Romeo's report: "By February <1990> I had established some good connections with the local officials in Saigon and started gathering information ... to look into the possibility of a Spratly operation. ... Finally it was becoming clear that this matter could be resolved only in Hanoi, at the highest level.

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January and December, 1991: YA0RR, Afghanistan

January and December, 1991: YA0RR, Afghanistanzoom...but was content to publicly thank Yuri Brazhenko, the president of the commercial firm "Moscow-Boston International Ltd." and he immediately sought the support of the omnipotent ARRL. Finally in December 1990 the planned operation was given the green light and the undertaking began with worldwide coordination by Ed Kritsky NT2X, and the financial support from Japan and the USA, and from the previously mentioned firm came an unlimited amount of credit.
Romeo took as his partner his friend Valery "Larry" YL1WW from the club station in Riga. On December 31, 1990 the pair flew from Moscow - and landed two hours later in Tashkent. The Russian military machine had altered their course. Not until January 2, 1991 could a half-military flight to Kabul be taken. The Soviet delegation, expected upon arrival at the airport, failed to materialize due to a gap in communications. As it would turn out, this was not the last unpleasant surprise to occur. During the unpacking of the equipment in the Soviet complex in the city, it became apparent that most of the antennas and some of the equipment had been stolen in Tashkent. The Soviets themselves would not risk going out into the streets after 9:00 PM, and at 10:00 a curfew came into effect. After that time, any passersby could be shot without warning. The government opposition was 30 kilometers from the city and kept it under continuous bombardment - this was anything but an ideal situation to venture out in. Whoever wished to erect an antenna anywhere was automatically a target of all the warring parties. No wonder that the Soviet ambassadors prohibited the construction of the station in the occupied land. In addition, the license did not come from the communications ministry, but from a high-ranking government official whose name Romeo had not surrendered.
Since further government support could not be expected, Romeo and Larry decided to act on their own. On January 5, they found a hideout in a suburb of Kabul and Larry built a 3-meter-high almost invisible loop antenna from thin wire as anything else would be suicide. With this antenna the first 10 meter QSO's were made with 100 watts because the sound of a generator would have drawn unwanted attention. The team changed their location altogether fourteen times, from comfortable single-family dwellings to primitive foxholes. Ninety percent of the contacts were made with the "Afghani Special", a 21 meter-long wire, on which laundry was hung for camouflage. Even without an antenna tuner (it was stolen in Tashkent) it was possible to operate on all bands. Only for a short time was it possible to use a quad for 10 and 15 meters, a Yagi for 20 meters and antennas for 6 meters, 160 meters, and the WARC bands - the risk was too great. Already on the third day the TS440 went dead and a short time later the FL-2100 finals surrendered to the deviation of the Afghani line voltages. From then on, the remaining IC-726 was combined with a Soviet-built final stage, and this pair proved very useful. Due to financial difficulties they were forced to sell the Honda 2800 generator. When the line voltage sank below 180 volts, only dots came from the key, and no dashes - and again a new station location had to be found. On the last two days it was even possible to pull off a few QSO's using RTTY. The expedition ended on January 21, 1991 with the return flight to Moscow, with 31,128 contacts in the logbook.
He successfully renewed his license and selected a spot in the mountains of Termez close to the Tajikistan border, took UJ8JLT and Anatoly A. Prozorof UB5JIM on the trip and succeeded, with only a few particular problems, after the 12th of December 1991 to make 24,000 contacts. The recognition for the DXCC certificate came without delay.

Download [1.5 MB]Romeo's 'Afghanistan Report' in full length (DX Magazine, August 1991) [PDF , 1.5 MB]

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Romeo's photo album (Courtesy ofSilversun)
1 - Flight Moscow-Tashkent / 2 - Fluight Tashkent - Kabul / 3, 4 - Kabul Airport / 5, 6 - Kabul street scenes / 7 - ??? / 8 - The Shack / 9 - On the road in Mazar-al-Sharif / 10 - Mazar-al-Sharif

1991: Moscow interlude for a new-born hero - and a trip around the world

The incredible career of Romeo Stepanenko - and a world-tour

1991: Moscow interlude for a new-born hero - and a trip around the worldzoomYouTube video: linkext. Link -- Russia's "White House" in Moscow is the seat of the Russian government. The building figured prominently on the morning of 19 August, 1991: Soviet officials launched a coup. Boris Yeltsin left for the Russian White House shortly after the coup was announced, encountering tanks and armored personnel carriers along the way. At 1 p.m. he climbed atop a tank positioned just outside the building, denounced the coup as unconstitutional, and called for Gorbachev's release from house arrest. Radio amateurs took a vital role during these dramatic hours.

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September 1991: XY0RR, Myanmar - and 1S0VX/1S1RR, Spratly, again

September 1991: XY0RR, Myanmar - and 1S0VX/1S1RR, Spratly, againzoomOnly a few days after his spectacular appearance in Moscow, Romeo landed his next coup, something just unthinkable (or so people thought at that time): From 30 August, 1991 he activated, the former Burma. It was the first (initially) recognized amateur rdsio operation after almost thirty years. No wonder that Myanmar ranked amongst the most wanted DXCC Entities worldwide. For two weeks four Soviet hams activated XYØRR.

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1992: 4J1FM 4J1FW Malyj Vysotskij island

1992: 4J1FM 4J1FW Malyj Vysotskij islandzoomYouTube video: linkext. Link

August 1992: 9D0RR, Iran / December 1992: P5RS7, North Korea

Romeo Stepanenko, the unsurpassed big gun of amateur radio...

August 1992: 9D0RR, Iran / December 1992: P5RS7, North KoreazoomIt was Romeo's greatest time. He was celebrated as a hero, invited to every major hamvention, honoured guest and everybody's darling. He obtained a US license and, in fact, collected call sign after call sign in incredibly short time - adding up to about fifty. Romeo was the highlight at the Dayton hamvention, in 1992, where we signed QSL cards and met his buddies. And the miracles continued: Romeo even topped his fame by activating another two "impossible" DXCC Entities.

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August 1993: 5A0RR, Libya

The Last Coup

August 1993: 5A0RR, LibyazoomRomeo states, "Originally, plans called for the use of six amateur radio operators for 5A, but due to the lack of funding we had to limit ourselves to three operators: Said (Libyan), who currently holds the call sign 5A0RR, Danny, LZ2UU and myself. During the operation, which lasted five days, we worked over 11,000 stations...

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February 1996: Romeo's decline and fall

The game is over

February 1996: Romeo's decline and fallzoomDX Bulletin 11 ARLD011 - From ARRL Headquarters Newington CT - February 21, 1996 -To all radio amateurs SB DX ARL ARLD011 ARLD011
Awards committee vote
The ARRL Awards Committee met recently to review submitted documentation for the 1992-93 P5RS7 operation submitted by Romeo Stepanenko. After a review of all material available, the Awards Committee voted unanimously to disqualify Romeo Stepanenko from participation in the DXCC program. This disqualification is based upon Rule 12, Operations Ethics, and Rule 13. The disqualification means that Stepanenko is not eligible to participate in the DXCC program in any manner. This includes, as provided for under Rule 12, paragraph (b) disallowance of contacts made with any station or DXpedition operated by him from the time of this action.

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Ending behind bars

Ending behind barszoomRomeo used various aliases due to his different jobs which dealt with different governments: names Romero Vega and Roman Vega were on his Guatemalan and Costa-Rican passports (with latest he was arrested in Cyprus). Based on information revealed by U.S. Secret Service, Romeo, aside of his Ukrainian and Russian passports issued on the name "Stepanenko", had been holding a few more passports: Estonian, Belgium, Greek, and United Kingdom, issued with the other different names. - He was arrested and extradited from Cyprus to the United States in March of 2004, and has been charged with 40 counts of wire fraud and trafficking in stolen credit card numbers. He is alleged to have done this in online chat rooms. He allegedly bilked over $3 million out of this scheme. Romeo has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He has been held in northern California, as he is considered a flight risk.
Romeo's trial was scheduled to begin in San Francisco on Monday, November 28, 2005.

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An update from Ed Kritsky...


An update from Ed Kritsky...(Photo: Romeo) We have tried time and again to find out about Romeo's whereabaouts after his detention. US authorities denied information, and Romeo's father, too, did not want to comment on his son's fate. But now Bernie McClenny, W3UR, the publisher of the Daily DX Bulletin, reveived an email from Ed Kritsky, NT2X, Romeo's buddy during the days of early fame, reprint and duplication permitted. Here is Ed's account:

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...and an update from Romeo himself

Legal note: The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher of this web site.

...and an update from Romeo himself "Currently I am incarcerated in New York’s MDC (Metropolitan Detention Center) in Brooklyn. I was arrested almost 10 years ago and have still not been sentenced by the American court. I was last arrested in 2003 in Cyprus, alleged to be Boa and charged (on the base of very flimsy and circumstantial evidence) of being one of the organizers and leaders of the criminal hacker-carder syndicate CarderPlanet and BoaFactory. A year and a half after the arrest, in 2004, I was extradited from Cyprus to the United States. My extradition documents were cooked by Cyprus police, based on the Interpol order initiated by the U.S. Government.

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Romeo's "Jail QSLs"


Romeo's 'Jail QSLs'zoomObviously, Romeo doesn't have access to radio equipment while he is in jail. However, to receive his jail-QSL, it's unnecessary to make on-air QSO with him. The numbered jail-card will be sent to anyone whose card Romeo receives by mail at his current jail's address: "If your QSL-card makes it through the jail's censorship, and arrives into my hands, this means that the jail-QSO has indeed taken place. Henceforth, you will find your callsign in the 3W3RR jail-pedition log linkext. Link as well as on twitter @RomanVega_com. Afterwards you will receive by snail mail a 3W3RR jail-pedition numbered QSL card. According to the jail's mail policies, a prisoner is only permitted to receive letters, postcards, photos and printouts. QSLs are considered postcards, and generally make it through. Do not send IRCs, postage stamps, green stamps or S.A.S.E., as all of these are considered contraband and immediately trashed (frequently along with the entire envelope's contents). Books and magazines mailed from private parties are not permitted. CDs and DVDs are also prohibited,."
Send your QSL-cards only, nothing else, to the current jail's address:
Roman Vega / # 59198-004 / MDC Brooklyn / P.O.Box 329002 / Brooklyn, NY 11232, U.S.A.
(Note: Romeo was transferred, in April 2015, to Georgia (CI McRae).
Prior to mailing Romeo a QSL card, better to verify that he hasn't been transferred to another jail by checking his current address at linkext. Link

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December 2013: The verdict - 18 years!


December 2013: The verdict - 18 years!zoomUkrainian National Who Co-Founded Cybercrime Marketplace Sentenced To 18 Years In Prison
December 12, 2013
Roman Vega Co-Founded CarderPlanet, One of the First Online Marketplaces for Stolen Financial Data
BROOKLYN, NY – Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, Roman Vega, one of the world’s most prolific cybercriminals, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Vega, a Ukrainian national who co-founded the notorious Internet website CarderPlanet, pled guilty in 2009 to conspiracies to commit money laundering and access device fraud. At the time of his arrest, Vega possessed over half a million stolen credit card numbers.

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January 2020: released!
From the York County Prison (PA) where he was held from November 2019, Romeo was escorted to the airplane jetway at JFK airport and on February 1, 2020 landed in Russia.

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QSL Collection - Dokumentationsarchiv Funk

DokuFunk uses Libreja


DokuFunk uses Libreja