A former computer science student Zain Qaiser extorted more than $913,000 by blackmailing users of porn websites was sentenced to more than 6 years in jail in the U.K. The U.K.’s National Crime Agency described Qaiser as “a top-level cybercriminal who targeted hundreds of millions of computers” across the globe. The scam affected users in more than 20 countries, including the U.S., Canada, and other countries in Europe.
Qaiser bought “masses” of advertising traffic from porn websites using the online name “K!NG.” According to officials, he used duplicitous identities and bogus companies to pose as legitimate online advertising agencies. “Once advertising space was secured, the crime group would host and post advertisements laced with malicious software, known as malware,” as NCA stated. The malware would lock users’ devices and display a message supposed to be from local law enforcement authorities or a government agency, insisting that the victim pay a “fine” of $300 to $1,000 to get the access back of their devices.
In a ransomware attack, hackers typically encrypt a computer network’s data to hold it “hostage” by cutting off access, for a price digital decryption key is provided to unlock it.
The hacker spent the money of his criminal activity on stays in high-end hotels, drugs, prostitutes, gambling, luxury items including a $6,500 Rolex watch, the NCA included. “In just one 10-month period, he spent £68,000 [$88,000] on gambling in a London casino, despite being unemployed and living with his family,” the agency stated.