Edward Pearson, the 23-year-old hacker that stole the personal details of around 8 million individuals by using the infamous Zeus, SpyEye and a program he made himself, was sentenced to two and a half years in jail.
The Daily Mail reports that Pearson’s lawyer said his client wasn’t hacking for the financial gain, but rather for the intellectual challenges these activities posed.
But the fact that he obtained the details of 200,000 PayPal accounts, the tools he used, along with the fact that his girlfriend tried to pay with the stolen credit card data for luxury hotels led the prosecution to believe otherwise.
“Pearson used his considerable expertise for his criminal intentions. When police examined other computers they found the details of 2,701 credit or debit cards. Based on the average fraud used on a single card being £309, the potential gain to be made by him was £834,000,” prosecutor David Hughes said.
“In fact the actual fraud on these credit and debit cards attributed to Pearson amounted to £2,351, but the total on the cards was £39,832.”
Pearson is also considered to be responsible for breaching the systems of Nokia and AOL, from which he stole employee details and other sensitive data. According to reports, Nokia was forced to shut down part of its internal network as a result of the incident, because the details of 8,000 staffers were stolen by the hacker.
Pearson’s girlfriend, Cassandra Mennim was sentenced to 12 months of supervised release, after she promised she would pay back the money owed to the hotels.
“It is extremely regrettable that you two promising young individuals find yourself in the dock. This was a very sophisticated crime, in which you managed to access highly confidential information and put many many individuals at risk of attack,” judge Ms Recorder Ann Mulligan said.
However, she took note of the fact that the young hacker didn’t sell the stolen information and admitted that his actions may have been performed simply for the intellectual challenge.