Thursday December 19,2013 : POLISH D.D.O.S. FRAUDSTERS TRIED TO BLACKMAIL BRITISH ONLINE GAMBLING FIRM
Two crooks will have time to reflect on their crime after imposition of jail sentences.
Two thirty-something Polish crooks who travelled to Britain and tried to use DDoS threats to blackmail a Manchester-based online gambling operator into handing over half his company now languish in jail following a sentencing by the Manchester Crown Court this week.
Patryk Surmacki (35) and Piotr Smirnow (31) pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to two counts of blackmail after they were arrested in a police sting operation mounted with the cooperation of the online gambling operator they had tried to intimidate.
The duo, who are described as computer programmers, also admitted conspiracy to access, use and impair computers without authorisation.
The court ruled that the operator may not be identified.
Presiding Judge Michael Henshaw was told that Surmacki and Smirnow threatened to shut down the online gambling company's website if the owner did not hand over a 50 percent share of the business, which has a turnover in excess of GBP 30 million p.a.
In August this year, to illustrate their capability, they hired a US hacker to launch a Distributed Denial of Service attack on the website which took it offline for five hours and cost the company around GBP 32,000.
But the owner reported the attempted extortion to the police instead of bowing to their demands, and a sting operation centred on a UK airport was mounted which resulted in the arrest of the Polish pair.
Investigating officer Detective Inspector Chris Mossop said after the sentencing:
"With millions of pounds and potentially dozens of jobs involved, Smirnow and Surmacki were playing for incredibly high stakes and clearly knew exactly what they were doing. They may have been using the latest technology but this was simply good old-fashioned blackmail.
"They behaved like a couple of sinister playground bullies who thought they could use the threat of financial annihilation to extort compliance".
Handing out sentences of five years and four months to each of the accused, Judge Henshaw said:
"What you wanted was a share of the business and in order to achieve that the victims of the offences had to know who they were dealing with.
"The offences were a demonstration of what you can do in order to reinforce a threat.
"You took the law into your own hands in the belief that your methods would achieve immediate result.
"The victims of these offences knew the consequences of this type of attack could be potentially devastating.
"But what you didn't count on was the victims telling the police, which they did."
The British victim, said: "This case made me fear for my personal safety as well as for the future of my business. Which is why I felt compelled to take action against the perpetrators.
"No-one should have to succumb to blackmail and this sentence should act as a warming to those involved in cyber extortion that the police and the courts will view this type of conduct very seriously."