Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 1, 2016

Romanian National “Guccifer” Extradited to Face Hacking Charges

Marcel Lehel Lazăr, 44, of Arad, Romania, allegedly the hacker “Guccifer,” made his initial appearance today in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. 

Lazăr had been temporarily surrendered from Romania to face U.S. charges relating to unauthorized access of protected computers, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bill A. Miller of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DSS) and Special Agent in Charge James M. Murray of the U.S. Secret Service’s Washington Field Office.

“Marcel Lazar is the latest of a dozen high-level cybercriminals who have recently been extradited to face justice in the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Old-fashioned investigative work, enhanced international law enforcement relationships, and a long memory can ensure that foreign-based hackers have no safe haven even in the remote corners of the globe.  As the saying goes, ‘they can run, but they can’t hide.’”

“Mr. Lazar violated the privacy of his victims and thought he could hide behind the anonymity of the Internet,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.  “No matter where they are in the world, those who commit crimes against U.S. citizens will be held accountable for their actions, pursued by our investigators and prosecutors and brought to justice.” 

“As a direct result of relentless investigative efforts and cooperation with our international partners, Marcel Lazar, also known as Guccifer, will begin answering for his alleged cyberhacking activities today in the U.S. judicial system,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate.  “I commend the dedicated work of the agents, analysts, prosecutors and our federal partners to identify Guccifer, who is alleged to have gained unauthorized access to on-line accounts and violated the privacy of victims, while attempting to hide unsuccessfully behind the anonymity of the Internet.”

In the United States, Lazăr is charged in a nine-count indictment with three counts of wire fraud, three counts of gaining unauthorized access to protected computers, and one count each of aggravated identity theft, cyberstalking and obstruction of justice.  Lazăr's case will be heard before U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris of the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to the indictment, from December 2012 to January 2014, Lazăr hacked into the email and social media accounts of high-profile victims, including a family member of two former U.S. presidents, a former U.S. Cabinet member, a former member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former presidential advisor.  After gaining unauthorized access to their accounts, Lazăr publicly released his victims’ private email correspondence, medical and financial information and personal photographs.  The indictment also alleges that in July 2013 and August 2013, Lazar impersonated a victim after compromising the victim’s account.

The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations.  The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

The FBI’s Washington Field Office, the DSS and the U.S. Secret Service are investigating the case with assistance from the Romanian National Police.

Senior Counsels Ryan K. Dickey and Peter V. Roman of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jay V. Prabhu and Maya D. Song of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs has provided significant assistance.

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Press Release Number: 
16-392
Updated April 1, 2016