Two teenagers have been charged with hacking a number of online companies in order to steal customers' credit card details.
Zachary Woodham, 19, and Louis Tobenhouse, 18, both from Brighton, were dealt with at Southwark Crown Court in connection with various computer misuse and fraud offences. The two men were arrested following an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service's Police Central e-Crime Unit.
According to the Met, using the alias 'Colonel Root', Woodham hacked into web hosting company ‘Punkyhosting' in April 2009. It detected the attack and made attempts to prevent it. In response, Woodham repeatedly attacked the company over a number of weeks, causing it to cease trading. He then sent a taunting email gloating about his actions.
Further inquiries revealed the extent of his online criminal activity and identified Tobenhouse's involvement. It became clear that the pair had targeted online casinos/betting companies, as well as other web hosting businesses. A subsequent examination of their computers led to the discovery of thousands of credit cards details.
The investigation also found that Woodham used some of the credit cards to pay for access to a number of premium rate chat lines, which he owned, thereby laundering the money, which he then paid into his own accounts.
The two were also found to be active participants of the online forum 'GhostMarket', an investigation into which saw four people sentenced to over 15 years' imprisonment in March. Woodham and Tobenhouse posted tutorials on the website giving advice on how to hack into company websites, commit acts of fraud and evade police capture.
Both were arrested and later charged on 23rd December 2010. On his arrest Tobenhouse said: “I will never get a job in IT now.” They both pleaded guilty to their offences at the initial hearing.
Woodham was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment suspended for two years and to perform unpaid work for 240 hours for the unauthorised modification of a computer under section three of the Computer Misuse Act x3 (Hacking). He was also sentenced to six months' imprisonment, suspended for two years plus 120 hours unpaid work to run concurrently, for encouraging crime under section 46 of the Serious Crime Act. There was no separate sentence for possession of articles for fraud or acquiring criminal property.
Tobenhouse was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work and a 12-month community order for encouraging crime and sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work and a 12-month community order for possession of articles for fraud, under section six of the Fraud Act.
Detective Constable Stuart Hosking of the Police Central e-Crime Unit said: "Woodham and Tobenhouse chose to abuse their computer skills causing a considerable amount of financial loss and anxiety to a number of innocent people. Woodham in particular has shown himself to be a vindictive hacker with no sign of remorse towards any of his victims.
“This case illustrates that internet crime is not victimless and that the Police Central e-Crime Unit will pursue perpetrators of such offences in support of victims and to ensure they be held accountable for their actions.”