Business

Erik Gibbs

NiceHash runs afoul of authorities, again

Cryptocurrency mining marketplace NiceHash doesn’t seem to get the message. Hacking computers, or even offering software that enables hacks, is prohibited. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has targeted the site – again – over its activities, this time because it allegedly was planning on creating and distributing malware over Darkode, a dark web forum that is popular with hackers and other criminals.

Darkode is a criminal organization that is managed through a password-protected online forum. IT has been used by “high-level international hackers” and with crooks in order to buy, sell or share hacking tools and info, and was already targeted by the FBI. An investigation into the site led to the arrest of Thomas McCormack out of the US, Spain’s Florencio Carro Ruiz and two Slovenians, Matjaz Skorjanc and Mentor Leniqi. All are facing charges of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. According to a Department of Justice press release, each of the conspiracy charges includes identity theft, extortion and access to device fraud.

The release adds, “As alleged in the charging documents, Darkode was a criminal organization centered around an online, password-protected criminal forum where high-level international hackers and other cyber-criminals convened to develop, buy, sell, trade, and share hacking tools, information, and ideas. Before becoming a member of Darkode, prospective members were vetted through a process in which an existing member invited a prospective member to the forum to present the skills or products that he or she could bring to the group. Darkode members allegedly used each other’s skills and products to infect computers and electronic devices of victims around the world with malware and, thereby gain access to, and control over, those devices.”

Skorjanc, also known in the underground circles as “iserdo,” created NiceHash. He is also responsible for malware that infected over one million computers in what was one of the largest coordinated attacks ever, and which formed the Mariposa botnet. He already served a five-year sentence for Mariposa and was released in 2017, but is apparently back to his old ways.

The new charges brought forward by the FBI center on Skorjanc’s activity, as well as that of his cohorts, in distributing malware through Darkode. Each of the criminals is looking at, possibly, a minimum of 20 years behind bars. Racketeering conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud has a 30-year maximum. Hopefully, they would run consecutively.

The crooks won’t be locked up anytime soon, though. The FBI hasn’t been able to find them. Only McCormack has been arrested. The others are still in the wind.

Editor’s Note: NiceHash have published a response to this article, which can be found on their website

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as SegWitCoin BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins. Altcoins, which value privacy, anonymity, and distance from government intervention, are referenced as dark coins.

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