NiceHash Co-Founder, Wanted in the US, Arrested in Germany

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The co-founder and former CTO of cryptocurrency mining marketplace NiceHash has been arrested by German federal police in connection with US charges of racketeering and fraud. 

According to the news website, Matjaz Škorjanc was arrested on Monday in Schwarzbach after crossing the German border in a car with Slovenian license plates. 

Slovenian national Škorjanc is wanted in the US on suspicion of being a member of a criminal organization that committed a number of cyber-frauds between 2008 and 2013. 

The US alleges that the 33-year-old set up and managed online password-protected hacking forum Darkode, in which cyber-criminals convened to buy, sell, trade, and share information, ideas, and tools to facilitate unlawful intrusions into others’ computers and electronic devices.

Darkode was shut down in 2015 as part of an internationally coordinated law enforcement effort called Operation Shrouded Horizon.

Škorjanc, who was known online as "iserdo" and "serdo," is further accused of creating and deploying the malicious botnet Mariposa, which harvested personal data from nearly a million computers around the world. Mariposa caused estimated damages of around $4 million after using cyber-scamming and denial-of-service (DOS) attacks to effectively turn infected computers into remotely controlled zombies. 

An indictment was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on December 4, 2018, against Škorjanc, fellow Slovene Mentor Leniqi, Spaniard Florence Carro Ruiz, and American Thomas McCormick. Each of the accused was charged with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. The racketeering conspiracy charge includes conspiracy to commit bank, wire, and access device fraud, identity theft, hacking, and extortion. 

McCormick—the last known administrator of the Darkode forum—was also charged with five counts of aggravated identity theft. He was arrested at the FBI’s Washington Field Office in Washington, DC, six days after the indictment was filed.

If convicted of the charges, each of the accused could spend up to 50 years behind bars.

Škorjanc has already served four years and ten months in a Slovenian prison after being convicted for his role in the Mariposa botnet.

Škorjanc's father and H-Bit CEO Martin Škorjanc 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. 

"It is an inadmissible retrial of the same thing; it is forbidden by Slovenian, European, and American law."

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