Jailed Hacker Who Attacked Uber and Sainsbury’s Hands Over £1 Million In Bitcoin

by Sunny Hoi

A jailed British computer hacker who launched cyber attacks on large corporations like Uber, Sainsbury’s, and Asda while living at a caravan park in Kent has had his Bitcoin and other digital currencies worth $1 million confiscated.

Grant West, 27, who was known on the dark web by the handle Courvoisier hacked more than 100 companies worldwide, stealing tens of thousands of customer’s financial information prior to selling the details on dark web marketplaces.

On Friday, a London judge ordered West to repay the approximated £922,978.14 worth of cryptocurrencies ($1.13 Million) he earned illicitly from selling the breached data on the dark web to reimburse the victims.

West, from Ashcroft Caravan Park, Kent in southeast England, was previously sentenced to 10 years and eight months in jail in May last year. He was arrested in September 2017. He needs to comply with the confiscation order to risk facing an extra four years in jail, judge Joanna Korner said. West has agreed to comply with the order.

A dark web page displaying Grant West’s online identity Courvoisier.

British authorities have been in possession of 82 Bitcoins (BTC) previously acquired by West via his unlawful activities prior to his sentencing. In contrast to fiat currencies, there lacks a centralized change rate for the currency, which increased in value to nearly £18,000 ($22,022.46) a Bitcoin in December 2017 prior to falling below £7,000 ($8564.29) in May 2018.

Authorities on Friday calculated the value of the confiscated assets to be a rate of around £8,500 ($10,399.5) a Bitcoin.

British law enforcement found out that West employed phishing emails to launch cyberattacks on more than 100 companies globally, ultimately deceiving some victims into turning over personally identifiable information (PII).

All of the profits he earned was converted into cryptocurrencies and stored in numerous accounts.

West sold the stolen data on the dark web, a part of the internet that search engines do not index which may solely be accessed using the anonymizing Tor browser, and held his profits in various Bitcoin accounts.

West ran the illicit enterprise using his girlfriend’s laptop, ultimately being caught by the Metropolitan Police’s cybercrime unit following a two-year investigation codenamed Operation Draba. British law enforcement also confiscated a considerably less amount in other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum (ETH) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) in Operation Draba.

Approximately £200,000 ($244,843) in Bitcoin was in the possession of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under its own investigation and were frozen at the request of the British Crown Prosecution Service.

The Metropolitan Police confiscated the cryptocurrency after West made a crucial mistake by going on a train from Rhyl to London with his fingers on his keyboard.

Investigators identified West as the head of an organized crime network that primarily targeted London-based organizations.

In one unsuccessful phishing attempt, he impersonated as Just Eat and made an attempt to steal data from 165,000 individuals. The security incident cost the company approximately £200,000 ($244,750) in spite of no financial information being acquired.

Besides Uber, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Just Eat, West targeted other organizations including the Ladbrokes Coral, Argos, Groupon, British Cardiovascular Society, T-Mobile, and Nectar.

West began trading on the dark web in March 2015 and made more than 47,000 sales, which also comprised ‘how to’ hacker guides that instructed cybercriminals on how to perform cyber intrusions.

In addition, he sold cannabis online, whereby he shipped to customers. Law enforcement raided the storage units that he rented and discovered half a kilo of cannabis and £25,000 ($30,664.38) in cash.

Investigators found approximately 78 million individual usernames and passwords as well as 63,000 credit and debit card details kept on an SD card retrieved from his address.

The seizure follows the sentencing that took place in Norwich last week of hacker Elliot Gunton, 19, who successfully hacked telecommunications company TalkTalk and sold stolen data in return for hundreds of thousands of pounds in cryptocurrency.

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