Computer Hacker Jailed for Blackmailing Porn Users

Zain Qaiser Porn Blackmail jailed

A computer hacker who made millions of pounds blackmailing pornography website visitors has been jailed for his crimes. Zain Qaiser, 24-years-old, from Barking, London, was sentenced to six years and five months at Kingston Crown Court on Tuesday. The court heard he is the most profuse cyber criminal to be sentenced in the UK.

The former computer science student purchased advertising spaces under fake identities on legal pornography sites, where he would infect victims’ devices with malware.

Devices infected with the malware would show a screen impersonating the police in their countries, demanding a fine payment of between $300 and $1,000 (£220 and £760).

Qaiser worked with an international Russian crime group as part of the scheme, which took most of the millions. However, according to investigators, he personally received over £700,000 for his part in the illegal scam.

It was reported he spent this money staying at luxury hotels, prostitutes, gambling and on a Rolex watch. The National Crime Agency (NCA) described it as the most serious case of cyber crime that they have ever investigated.

Zain Qaiser

Zain Qaiser will spend six years and five months in prison for charges of blackmail and fraud. Credit: NCA

Judge Timothy Lamb QC, who passed the sentence, said: “The harm caused by your offending was extensive – so extensive that there does not appear to be a reported case involving anything comparable.”

“Whatever your motivation for mounting these attacks on the Internet, you took the opportunity to spend large sums of ill-gotten money in casinos, on an expensive watch and luxury hotel services.”

“All the constituent offences were part and parcel of your role as the self-styled ‘K!NG’ of the Internet.”

“It has been asserted on your behalf you are remorseful. I have seen no outward expression of that.”

According to the NCA, the crime group he was working with made millions of pounds out of victims in over 20 countries. However, the total number of people who paid the fake fine is unknown.

Prosecutor Joel Smith told the court that while some advertisers were “happy to turn a blind eye” on Qaiser’s illegal activity, others who attempted to stop him “became the subject of the defendant’s anger.”

He would then attempt to blackmail these sites by taking down their servers with denial of service attacks, which allegedly cost these businesses thousands of pounds. The court also heard that the hacker even threatened to spam the sites with images of child sexual abuse.

Related image

Zain Qaiser made an undetermined fortune with his crimes, with further profits also said to be hidden in offshore accounts. Credit: Extremetech

Qaiser initially denied the crimes and claimed to have been hacked himself, but has entered guilty pleas to the 11-count indictment.

The hacker admitted to three counts of blackmail, three counts of fraud by false representation, four counts of doing an unauthorised act with intent to damage the operation of a computer, and one count of possessing criminal property.

The ransomware offences using the harmful advertisements on pornography websites were committed between 2012 and 2014, while the money laundering occurred between 2015 and 2018.

Qaiser was first charged in 2017, but the trial was abandoned as he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. However, the court heard that while he was detained at Goodmayes Hospital in north London, he used the WiFi to access the websites which he used for his criminal activity.

The hacker was arrested in December 2018 for laundering £120,000 while out on bail, whilst undetermined amounts were also laundered through playing at Casinos. Prosecutors said they suspect he had stored more of his profit in offshore accounts, but haven’t been able to trace the money so far.

 

Story by Emily Clark

Featured Photo Credit: BirminghamMail

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