Unable to find who used a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in a failed attempt to make transactions with a stolen credit card, Greek authorities are trying to prosecute the owner of the American company providing the online security.
Ben Van Pelt is the founder of the Florida-based VPN company TorGuard, a service of the type millions are now using to prevent being tracked online and safeguard financial transactions from hackers.
Greece wants to hold him responsible for an attempt by an unknown person using his company’s VPN to use the credit card to make 2,025.60 euros ($2100.12) in online purchases – including one for 67 cents, said TorrrentFreak.
The transactions failed because the bank, not identified, detected a fraudulent attempt but it wasn’t explained how, and the card’s owner filed a complaint that led to a police investigation to find out who was behind the VPN use.
That led to a shared IP address registered to TorGuard but not to whomever tried to make the purchases, leaving Greek authorities seemingly with nowhere to turn – before targeting Van Pelt.
The site said he faces up to five years in jail if convicted although it wasn’t said how he could be made to face a Greek court with the Three-Member Court for Misdemeanours in Athens set to hear the case in February 2023, the report said.
He hired attorney Alexis Anagnostakis who told the site that it’s “unbelievable” that his client is being held personally liable for the fraudulent activity attempt through the VPN.
“The irregularities of the investigation are extremely difficult to justify and have led to an incredible accusation against an upstanding businessman. There is no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Van Pelt was personally involved in the alleged fraud or had any participation or was an accessory,” Anagnostakis said.
Van Pelt told TorrentFreak that, “This is an unfortunate situation that can affect any company structured with full ownership transparency. It is very frustrating to be falsely accused of something when there is a complete lack of factual evidence and a general misunderstanding of the technology involved.”
Van Pelt said that the strange case has really given him “a new appreciation for the protections afforded to businesses and individuals on a global scale.”
He said that TorGuard “will continue to operate transparently as trust is the cornerstone of our operations. If my customers do not know exactly who they are doing business with, how can they trust me?”