The former CTO and co-founder of the Slovenian cryptocurrency hash power broker NiceHash has been arrested in Germany on charges of being a member of a group of hackers that was in charge of millions of dollars robbery.
As the Slovenian news portal 24UR.com reports, Matjaz Skorjanec was detained by German law enforcement last Monday. The U.S. Department of Justice has issued a warrant for Skorjanec’s extradition.
The defendant will face charges that he created and administered an online hacking website Darkode where hackers used to conduct trading operations and plan illicit cyber-attacks on others’ computers and electronic devices.
Regarding the apprehension, the Chief Executive Officer of NiceHash’s parent organization H-Bit and Matjaz’s father, Martin Skorjanec said: “There is no real legal basis for the prosecution, as Matjaz Škorjanc was already convicted for the same act as prosecuted by the US prosecutor, and the sentence has already been fully passed in Slovenia.”
The hacking forum was shut down back in 2015 as part of an 18-month international law enforcement investigation “Operation Shrouded Horizon”.
In 2013, Skorjanec was sentenced to four years and ten months imprisonment in Slovenia for designing the malware that fueled the ‘Mariposa‘ botnet, which means “Butterfly,” in Spanish. Mariposa was a very powerful crime tool first noticed in 2008. Not long after its launch, Mariposa corrupted approximately over 1 million electronic devices. It was one of the biggest botnets ever produced.
Skorjanec, who also went by his hacker nickname “Iserdo” was first mentioned in a Justice Department indictment back in 2011 alongside two other hackers who supposedly created the Mariposa botnet code. However, this year in June, the Department of Justice updated the indictment accused the Slovenian, the two suspects mentioned in the first indictment as well as the fourth person, a US citizen, of creating Mariposa and managing Darkode hacker forum.
The first warrant for Skorjanec’s capture was issued back in 2011. According to the U.S. Code, Skorjanc could spend 50 years in prison if found guilty, as reported by 24UR.com.
The DOJ shut down Darkode in 2015 as part of coordinated law enforcement efforts in 20 countries, says cybersecurity specialist Brian Krebs. As stated by the Justice Department, Darkode was “one of the gravest threats to the integrity of data on computers in the United States and around the world and was the most sophisticated English-speaking forum for criminal computer hackers in the world.”
The Slovenian hash-power broker marketplace NiceHash lets consumers rent out their CPU power to mine digital currencies. NiceHash was cyber-attacked back in December 2017, a period during which the company was thriving, losing approximately $63 million in bitcoin from a jeopardized central wallet.
Skorjanc has previously served a 5-year sentence in Slovenia for taking part in the creation of Mariposa. During the massive infection, Mariposa collected personal data and caused a damage of evaluated $4 million, 24UR.com reports.