The famous hacker and dark web vendor by the name Grant West, also known as “Courvoisier,” has been sentenced to over 10 years in prison after being held in police custody for months.
The notorious hacker is said to have sold the personal details of 78 million victims to other criminals through the dark web.
By the latest counts, there were well over 100 companies whose customer details were stolen. The targets of his attacks spanned several industries—victims included Groupon, Uber, T-Mobile, Apple, Asda and several others.
West was sentenced in a U.K. court on charges of selling drugs and stolen data through AlphaBay, a darknet market that was seized by law enforcement last year.
He first came under law enforcement’s radar in 2015 after hacking Just Eat, a food delivery service. It was then that he sold the personal details of 160,000 people on the dark web.
Having sold huge troves of stolen data from large-scale attacks over several years, West’s operation accorded him a lavish lifestyle that needed a constant flow of cash to sustain it. This prompted him to use his victims’ credit card details, fuel points and air miles illegally.
He went on to note that the financial gains of West’s hacks were significant, indicating a motivation also shared by other hackers in cases similar to this one.
The Court Hearing and Final Ruling
It was Judge Michael Gledhill who delivered the ruling, which carried with it a strong message to other cybercriminals. Judge Gledhill said a lesson has to be taught to those who are misusing their computer abilities to harass others electronically.
As he delivered the ruling, the judge was quick to address the evidence that West had instigated one of the attacks from a computer belonging to his girlfriend, 26-year-old Rachael Brookes.
After a close examination of the evidence presented before him, Judge Gledhill concluded to spare Brookes of jail time. Instead, she received an order to complete two years of community service.
According to the prosecutor, West was a school dropout who initially never had hacking lessons.
He took almost 10 years sharpening his hacking techniques using online tutorials. He also learned how to steal personal data and later sell it on the dark web.
This gave him extensive knowledge on how to execute fraud campaigns and large-scale hacks.
How the Dramatic Arrest Unfolded
Investigators in Scotland Yard’s Cybercrime Unit spent two years gathering evidence of West’s activities before arresting him.
Their strategy was to catch West’s activities in action so they could arrest him red-handed.
West routinely used encryption to mask his identity online; thus any chance of nabbing him unexpected would be the best chance to get hold of his activities.
Undercover agents were able to pin down a location where they could make the arrest. The agents followed West onto a train heading to London from North Wales, ready to seize any moment.
The agents were strategically seated in the first-class carriage, watching all of West’s moves. They set a plan to catch him on his computer after he logged into his darknet accounts.
As soon as he logged into AlphaBay, the agents on standby spun into action by taking his computer and immediately arresting him.
The hacker was confused and lacked any counter move to escape the arrest. A nearby agent was recording the event to document proof of West’s arrest.
The undercover agents were amazed to understand the kind of criminal they were dealing with, as the information in his account gave it all.
This was the first kind of arrest that the U.K. ever made involving an international cybercriminal with his hands on the computer.
West ultimately pleaded guilty to 10 offenses, including conspiracy to defraud, computer hacking, possession of cannabis and money laundering using Bitcoins.
He will now spend 10 years and eight months in prison in accordance with the judge’s sentencing.
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