The US Department of Justice announced today that Nathan Wyatt, a prolific cyber criminal who is a member of The Dark Overlord hacker group, has been extradited from the United Kingdom to face several charges concerning the hacking of computer networks and blackmailing victims into paying a ransom.
Nathan Wyatt, who resides in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, gained notoriety when he was arrested by UK police in September 2017 for hacking into Pippa Middleton's iCloud account, stealing 3,000 of Pippa's personal pictures and pictures of her relatives, and for blackmailing her into paying £50,000 to recover their pictures.
Wyatt is a member of the prolific hacker group The Dark Overlord which has been found involved in multiple instances of hacking into computer systems owned by small and large businesses and forcing them to pay a ransom by threatening to release sensitive and confidential information to third parties.
The Dark Overlord targeted multiple companies with cyber attacks and ransom demands
In October 2017, the hacker group hacked into computer systems belonging to the London Bridge Plastic Surgery clinic, stole pictures of cosmetic surgeries conducted on celebrities, and demanded a ransom by threatening to sell sensitive pictures of celebrities to the highest bidder.
After the clinic refused to pay the ransom, The Dak Overlord shared several images with certain media outlets in the UK in January this year and again tried to extort the clinic by threatening to release more images of celebrities.
According to the National Cyber Security Centre, the hacker group "has a history of hacking organisations to obtain sensitive information before demanding money in exchange for not leaking it into the public domain. They leak snippets of data to the media to encourage them to report on their activity. This is aimed at 'proving' that a breach has taken place and increases the pressure on the victim to pay the ransom."
In 2017, The Dark Overlord also leaked ten episodes of the popular series 'Orange Is the New Black' after Netflix refused to play along with its ransom demand. The group infiltrated computer systems owned by Larson Studios, a post-production movie studio in Hollywood, and demanded 50 Bitcoins (then £38,890) in ransom from the studio in exchange for not leaking the episodes on the Internet.
Nathan Wyatt also admitted in a UK Court he had hacked into a law firm's computer to access confidential information which he then used to blackmail the firm to pay him 10,000 euros. In November 2017, he was handed a three-year prison sentence by the Southwark Crown Court for attempting to extort the British law firm and for committing several other computer crimes.
Nahan Wyatt tried to extort several companies based in St Louis, Missouri
Earlier today, the US Department of Justice announced that the United Kingdom has extradited Wyatt to the US to face several charges relating to computer fraud and identity theft. The extradition took place in response to an indictment issued by a federal grand jury in November 2017 concerning the hacking of computer systems belonging to victims in the St. Louis, Missouri, area.
"Wyatt was a member of The Dark Overlord, a hacking group that was responsible for remotely accessing the computer networks of multiple U.S. companies without authorization, obtaining sensitive records and information from those companies, and then threatening to release the companies’ stolen data unless the companies paid a ransom in bitcoin.
"Victims in the Eastern District of Missouri included healthcare providers, accounting firms, and others. Among other things, Wyatt is alleged to have participated in the conspiracy by creating email and phone accounts that he used to send threatening and extortionate emails and text messages to certain victims, including victims in the Eastern District of Missouri," DOJ said in a press release.
"Today’s extradition shows that the hackers hiding behind The Dark Overlord moniker will be held accountable for their alleged extortion of American companies. We are thankful for the close cooperation of our partners in the United Kingdom in ensuring that the defendant will face justice in U.S. court," said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski.
Image source: London Metropolitan Police