London police have recently seized £500,000 (about $667,000) worth of bitcoin from a hacker that reportedly attacked over 100 companies with phishing schemes, which gave him access to at least 78 million individual usernames and passwords.
The hacker, 26-year-old Grant West, attacked various companies throughout the world through phishing emails, in order to obtain data. This data, Bloomberg reports, would then be sold on the dark web for the flagship cryptocurrency.
West, who online went by “Courvoisier,” hit companies like Asda, Uber, and Argos to get their customers’ personal data. After being caught, he was sentenced to 10 years and 8 months. The judge on the case, Michael Gledhill, described the hacker as a “one-man cybercrime wave,” and claimed he “secreted away” as much as £1.6 million (about 2.1 million) worth of bitcoin.
The judge stated:
“Regrettably, as this case has demonstrated, security of information held electronically is at best poor. When such inadequate security is confronted with a criminal of your skills and ambition it is totally unfit for purpose and worthless.”
West was reportedly arrested while in a first-class train carriage, right as he was accessing the dark web. The arrest brought his phishing schemes, which had been running for two and a half years, to an end.
According to The Guardian, the hacker also used stolen email addresses to harvest more personal data. By posing as Just Eat offering customers rewards, West got the victims to fill out a survey that covered everything needed to make online purchases under their name.
The hacker admitted to various charges, including possessing criminal property, unauthorized modification of computer material, conspiracy to defraud, and money laundering. Anna Mackenzie, defending, argued West suffers from low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. She said:
“He has expressed remorse and shame and acknowledges his irresponsibility, selfishness, greed and hunger to succeed. He wishes to offer apologies to the victims and businesses affected by his actions.”
At the time officers managed to recover the $667,000 worth of bitcoin, a memory card containing “approximately 78 million” individual usernames and passwords was also recovered.