Business

Steve Kaaru

Riot Games co-founder victim of $5M crypto mining scam

Riot Games co-founder Marc Merrill was reportedly a victim of an extensive cloud crypto mining scam. Merrill’s credit card information was used to buy massive cloud computing power which was then used to mine cryptocurrencies. The cybercriminal behind the scam is said to have racked up over $5 million in cloud computing fees.

The man accused of perpetrating the scam is Matthew Ho, a report by Forbes has revealed. The Singaporean is alleged to have started the scam as far back as November 2014 and was only discovered in January 2018. Ho allegedly used Merrill’s American Express credit card to pay for cloud computing with Amazon and Google multiple times.

It all started with identity theft, with Ho impersonating Merrill, the founder of the company behind the massively popular League of Legends. The first was through a fake Californian driving license. He also used an email that appeared on paper as the legitimate Merrill’s email. However, to erase any doubts about his ‘identity,’ he used the legitimate home address for Merrill.

Armed with the fake identity, it was now time to execute his scam. He contacted Amazon to buy cloud computing power, and since Merrill was an established client with his gaming business, Amazon even offered Ho “access to substantially elevated levels of cloud computer services,” the report stated. The nature of this elevated access wasn’t revealed.

Ho is alleged to have done the same with Google, making 16 separate payments with the company for cloud computing power. However, unlike with Amazon, Google’s payments didn’t go through, with the bank declining the payments and returning the money to Merrill’s account.

Ho then used the cloud computing power to mine cryptos, majorly Ether and BTC. He sold the crypto he mined on peer-to-peer exchanges such as LocalBitcoins. However, he happened to leave a digital footprint on the internet which the police used to eventually track him. He was arrested by the Singapore Police Force on September 26.

Merrill is the most renowned of Ho’s credit card scam victims, but he’s not the only one. According to an indictment which was unsealed in the U.S. in October, Ho is alleged to have scammed an Indian tech company founder and a Texas resident, among others.

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