A young Cypriot hacker was found guilty in the US state of Georgia of committing cybercrimes after being extradited after being accused of working from home on the island to gain access to American sites and demanding ransom.
Joshua Epiphaniou, 21, was sent to the US after being held in custody without trial for three years, said The Cyprus Mail, charged with the crimes authorities said were done when he was still a minor.
He could face up to 20 years in an American prison after being the first Cypriot extradited to the US and as the paper said his lawyers are trying to work out a deal with the FBI to get his sentence reduced at his next court date March 3.
“The accused gained access to US-based websites and threatened to reveal stolen personal information belonging to users unless they agreed to pay a ransom,” US prosecutor Bobby L. Christine said, the paper reported.
“His arrest, extradition and conviction demonstrate our determination to bring to justice any hacker, no matter where he is,” he said, the proliferation of cybercrime and expertise of hackers a challenge to governments and businesses.
Atlanta FBI special agent Chris Hacker said the trial represented the agency’s determination to bring to justice cybercriminals for blackmailing US companies and citizens, “no matter where they are hiding”.
“However, the successful prosecution of this case would not have been possible without the help of our federal and foreign partners, including the Cypriot government,” he said.
The indictment charged that from October 2014-November 2016, when Epiphaniou was 14-16, he worked with others to steal personal data from user and customer databases at victim websites in order to extort the websites into paying ransoms under threat of public disclosure, blackmailing them.
He allegedly used proxy servers located in foreign countries to log into online email accounts and send messages to the victim’s websites threatening to leak the sensitive data unless a ransom was paid, the report added.
Prosecutors said he defrauded victims of $56,850 in bitcoin and two victims incurred losses of over $530,000 from remediation costs associated with the incident, it was also said.