A British computer hacker was jailed for 10 years and eight months after being found guilty of selling 63,000 stolen credit and debit cards on the dark web. Police seized an amount of Bitcoin worth over $600,000.
UK Judge Sentences Hacker to 10 Years, Police Seize Over $600,000 in Bitcoin
26-year old Grant West, a computer hacker from Kent, United Kingdom, was described as a “one man cybercrime wave” for having stolen the personal data of approximately 165,000 people through a “phishing” scheme. The prosecution stated that he profited over £180,000 (approximately $240,000) from the scam and converted the proceeds into Bitcoin, which would then be stored in multiple accounts.
West would send emails pretending to be from Just Eat, an online food order and delivery service, to extract credit and debit card details from his victims. He was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison after admitting charges, which included conspiracy to commit fraud, computer misuse, and drug offences. Judge Michael Gledhill presided over the trial.
Cryptocurrencies have been increasingly used as means of payment and store of value by criminals, as cases brought to justice seem to prove. In March 2018, a Ukranian-Russian cybercriminal gang was caught after allegedly stealing up to €1 billion from banks in Spain, which then were converted into Bitcoin.
As these activities prove that Bitcoin is regarded as a safe store of value, criminals are also increasingly targeting the cryptocurrency ecosystem. In Malaysia, a criminal gang of nine members was arrested for stealing Bitcoin mining equipment, of at least 58 machines. In February 2018, the first Bitcoin robbery in Taiwan was attributed to four men who posed as potential Bitcoin buyers in order to steal the equivalent of $170,000.
Masquerading as Just Eat, Grant West offered a voucher in return for answering questions between July 2015 and December 2015. The phishing scam cost the firm over £200,000 (approximately $267,000), but there is no evidence their servers were hacked by West, according to the prosecution. Other high profile hack victims include British Airways, Barclays, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Uber, Argos, Coral.
The Police seized £25,000 (approximately $33,000) in cash and £500,000 (approximately $666,000) in Bitcoin. Judge Michael Gledhill said £1.6 million (approximately $2.3 million) worth of cryptocurrency is unaccounted for.
“When such inadequate security is confronted with a criminal of your skills and ambition it is totally unfit for purpose and worthless. This case should be a wake-up call to customers, companies and the computer industry to the very real threat of cybercrime.”
Once the hacker had a set of customer details, he would then sell them on Alpha Bay, an online dark web market 10-times larger than Silk Road which was taken down by the authorities in July 2017.