A British man has been handed 20 months in jail and ordered to forfeit over £400,000 ($487,000) for offering hacking services and stolen private data in return for cryptocurrency.
Nineteen-year-old Elliot Gunton was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on Friday, having pleaded guilty at a previous hearing, according to a local police news report.
Police had found evidence on Gunton’s laptop that he had “offered to supply compromised personal data of individuals to others for them to use for criminal purposes”. The information included mobile phone numbers which could be used to intercept calls and texts in order to commit crimes.
Gunton was further discovered to be advertising hacking services in exchange for $3,000 in bitcoin.
While he had taken efforts to conceal his activity, police found portions of online chats in which Gunton discussed his criminal activity. Officers also tracked and seized £275,000 ($335,000) in cryptocurrency held by Gunton.
Probably unwisely, he had tweeted via one of his online identities – “@Gambler” – saying, “having lots of money is cool….but having lots of money without people knowing is cooler”.
The police said they had discovered the criminal activity during a routine visit to ensure Gunton was complying with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order imposed in 2016 for earlier offences.
Detective Sergeant Mark Stratford said:
“Gunton was exploiting the personal data of innocent businesses and people in order to make a considerable profit but he did not succeed in hiding all of his ill-gotten gains which enabled us to seize hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of Bitcoin.”
Gunton was charged with breaching the Sexual Harm Prevention Order, hacking offences and money laundering, the police report said.
While sentenced to 20 months jail time, Gunton was immediately released as he had already served his sentence while in custody.
However, he must hand over £407,359 in ill-gotten gains and must comply with a 3.5 year Community Behaviour Order restricting his use of the internet, browsers, VPNs and cloud storage. He must also not use cryptocurrency, digital wallets or exchanges without informing police and passing over all details and addresses.
U.K. police image via Shutterstock