Court Authorizes the Seizure of Domains Used in Furtherance of a Cryptocurrency “Pig Butchering” Scheme
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Marcel Lehel Lazar, 44, of Arad, Romania, a hacker who used the online moniker “Guccifer,” pleaded guilty today to unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft.
“Mr. Lazar will be punished for violating the personal privacy of dozens of Americans,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for 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.”
“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 Leslie Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “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.”
“Marcel Lazar, who hacked under the moniker ‘Guccifer,’ has now been brought to justice before a United States court,” said Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “As a direct result of our global technological and investigative reach and strong international partnerships, we were able to successfully identify Guccifer and his criminal activities, and bring him to justice here in America. The FBI will continue to relentlessly hunt down criminals in cyberspace and around the world. I would like to commend the dedicated efforts of the agents, analysts, prosecutors, and international partners who worked tirelessly to resolve this highly complex cyber investigation.”
“The success of this international investigation is the direct result of our long established partnerships with our federal and foreign law enforcement partners,” said Brian J. Ebert, Special Agent In Charge of the United States Secret Service’s Washington Field Office. “By working with our law enforcement partners around the world, we have disrupted and brought to justice some of the most prolific transnational cyber-criminals operating around the world. These continued partnerships will enable us to pursue cyber criminals wherever they operate.”
In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Lazar admitted that from at least October 2012 to January 2014, he intentionally gained unauthorized access to personal email and social media accounts belonging to approximately 100 Americans, and he did so to unlawfully obtain his victims’ personal information and email correspondence. His victims included an immediate family member of two former U.S. presidents, a former member of the U.S. Cabinet, a former member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former presidential advisor, he admitted. Lazar admitted that in many instances, he publically released his victims’ private email correspondence, medical and financial information and personal photographs.
Lazar was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 12, 2014, and will be sentenced on September 1, 2016. He faces a mandatory sentence of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft conviction, to be added to any sentence he receives on the conviction for unauthorized access to a protected computer, for which he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Bill A. Miller, Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS); and Brian J. Ebert, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maya D. Song and Jay V. Prabhu, and Senior Counsel Ryan K. Dickey and Peter V. Roman of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs has provided significant assistance. The Justice Department thanks the government of Romania for their assistance in this matter.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:14-cr-213.