the takedown

‘Guccifer’ Pleads Guilty to Hacker Charges in Federal Court

Romanian hacker “Guccifer” admitted to compromising nearly 100 social media and email accounts of U.S. government officials, politicians, and other public figures in federal court Wednesday.

Marcel Lehel Lazar, the 44-year-old hacker who operated under the online pseudonym “Guccifer,” pled guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to two charges–unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft.

With admittedly no programming experience, Lazar is not a technical hacker like most. Rather, he is “the obsessive-compulsive type,” as one Romanian prosecutor put it. Lazar didn’t find and exploit vulnerabilities to hack into these systems, he investigated these people online and made connections to gain access to these accounts.

“Cybercriminals like Marcel Lazar believe they can act with impunity from safe havens abroad, but the Justice Department’s partnerships with law enforcement agencies around the world ensure that they can be brought to justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in a statement.  “Lazar sought fame by hacking the private online accounts of Americans and releasing their personal information to the public; instead, he has been convicted in United States federal court.”

Lazar’s victims included U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, plus several members and friends of the Bush family, including Dorothy Bush Koch, daughter of 41st U.S. President George H.W. Bush and sister of 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush.

After gaining access to their personal email accounts, Lazar released his victims’ private email correspondence, medical and financial information, and personal photographs.

“Mr. Lazar will be punished for violating the personal privacy of dozens of Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia.  “These convictions show that cybercriminals cannot hide from justice.  The United States will vigorously pursue these offenders, wherever they may hide.”

Lazar was extradited to the United States in March from Romania where he was serving a prison sentence for breaking into the email accounts of several Romanian public figures. Sentencing is set for September 1, 2016.

Posted in The Takedown

Tags: DOJ, hackers, cyber crime, hacking, cyber security


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