Hacker pleads guilty to blackmailing Adafruit, Bleacher Report, and other sites for bitcoin

A Cypriot man pleaded guilty to hacking and blackmailing a number of US corporations. Joshua Epifaniou admitted to laptop fraud and paid $600,000 in restitution to his victims. He was extradited from Cyprus and shall be sentenced on March third.

Epifaniou operated what he described as a “hacking, extortion, blackmailing, [and] bluffing” scheme from 2014 to 2016. Going by aliases that included “Charley Sullivan” and “Richard Charley,” he picked targets primarily based on their Alexa site visitors rankings. That led him to a number of well-known on-line companies — together with the Turner Broadcasting-owned sports activities website Bleacher Report, the DIY electronics firm Adafruit, and the California-based gaming portal Armor Video games.

Epifaniou exploited safety vulnerabilities or labored with co-conspirators to entry delicate info from these corporations, then demanded a bitcoin ransom in alternate for not publicly releasing it. According to an indictment, he threatened to publish Bleacher Report’s complete consumer database on-line, efficiently extorting round $19,000 in bitcoin from Turner. (Epifaniou apparently solely had entry to a part of the database, which he obtained from a conspirator.) Armor Video games paid $1,650 in bitcoin after he breached its laptop community and threatened to launch consumer account and fee particulars.

A separate indictment from Arizona mentions that Epifaniou additionally focused client complaints website Ripoff Report. As a part of that scheme, he gained entry to Ripoff Report data and focused corporations with “status administration” providers, deleting at the least 100 complaints and charging roughly $3,000 to $5,000 for every.

Epifaniou pleaded guilty to 1 cost of laptop fraud conspiracy and one other of acquiring info from a protected laptop. Every cost carries a most of 5 years in jail, and his plea deal recommends almost 5 years in custody adopted by three years of supervised launch. He has additionally agreed to work as an undercover investigator for the US authorities.

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