US sentences Israeli to prison for global hacker-for-hire scheme


A US court on Thursday sentenced an Israeli private detective to six years and nine months in prison for organizing global hacking campaigns against thousands of people including climate change activists and critics of German company Wirecard.

Aviram Azari, a former policeman detained in the United States since 2019, pleaded guilty last year to three counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit hacking and aggravated identity theft.

US District Judge John Koeltl handed down the sentence at a hearing in federal court in Manhattan.

Azari ‘pocketed millions of dollars, exhibited zero regard’

Prosecutors had asked that Azari, 51, get eight to nine years in prison, saying that his firm earned nearly $5 million over five years for managing hacking campaigns that targeted thousands of victims – many of whom were public interest groups.

“Azari pocketed millions of dollars for his oversight of the hacking groups, and he passed along the fruits of their hacking to his clients,” the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan said in court papers. “He exhibited zero regard for the harm inflicted on his victims.”

The headquarters of Wirecard AG, an independent provider of outsourcing and white label solutions for electronic payment transactions is seen in Aschheim near Munich, Germany, September 22, 2020 (credit: REUTERS/MICHAEL DALDER)

His defense lawyer, Barry Zone, asked for a sentence of no more than five years, arguing that Azari had accepted responsibility and contracted a “debilitating medical condition” while jailed in New York.

Prosecutors said that now-defunct pocketed millions of dollars, a member of Germany’s blue-chip DAX index before filing for insolvency in 2020, hired Azari to target individuals and financial firms that had criticized the company.

According to prosecutors, Azari also used hackers to steal emails from climate activists who were campaigning against US oil company Exxon Mobil Corp, which then cited media articles based on those messages to fend off probes by US state attorneys general.

Prosecutors did not allege any link between Azari and Exxon, which denied any connection to Azari or his hacking campaign.

Azari was the subject of an investigation last year by Reuters that revealed how he and other private eyes used mercenary hackers in India to help wealthy clients gain an advantage in court battles.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *