ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The hacker "Guccifer," alleged to be Marcel Lehel Lazăr, 44, of Arad, Romania, made his initial appearance today here in federal court on charges relating to unauthorized access of protected computers.
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.
“Mr. Lazar violated the privacy of his victims and thought he could hide behind the anonymity of the Internet,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “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.”
Lazăr had been temporarily surrendered from Romania to face U.S. charges relating to unauthorized access of protected computers. 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. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, with a two-year mandatory minimum for the aggravated identity theft charges. Lazăr’s next court appearance will be a detention hearing on Tuesday at 2 p.m.
“Marcel Lazar is the latest of a dozen high-level cybercriminals who have recently been extradited to face justice in the United States,” said Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “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.’”
"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 Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “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."
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.
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, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DSS); and James M. Murray, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jay V. Prabhu and Maya D. Song, along with Senior Counsel Ryan K. Dickey and Trial Attorney 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.
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.
Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.