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Teenage Hacker-for-Hire Receives Prison Sentence

A British teenager has been sentenced to 20 months in prison after selling his services as a freelance hacker.

Elliot Gunton of Mounteney Close, Norwich, England, pleaded guilty to hacking, money laundering and breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order imposed in 2016. The 19-year-old hacker-for-hire also pleaded guilty to hacking offences against an Australian Instagram account.

Gunton was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on Friday, August 16, after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing. The teen was ordered to pay back more than £400,000 he made in cryptocurrency after supplying online personal data and hacking services. 

The court heard how police found cybercrime-enabling software on Gunton's laptop after a routine search of his home conducted in April 2018. The search had been carried out to ensure that the teen was complying with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order imposed by the court in 2016 for previous offences. 

Information found on the laptop revealed that Gunton had offered to pass on mobile phone numbers, which would allow third parties to intercept calls and texts to commit fraud. Police also found evidence of Gunton advertising compromised data for sale and offering his services as a hacker-for-hire. 

Officers were able to trace and seize £275,000 worth of cryptocurrency illegally earned by Gunton, who had failed to erase all trace of conversations he had held online in which he discussed criminal activities. 

Gutton received a 20-month custodial sentence but was immediately released form the court, as he had already served his sentence while on remand. He was ordered to pay back £407,359 and issued a 42-month Community Behaviour Order with strict terms dictating his access to the internet. 

The order bans Gunton from deleting his internet search history, from providing a false IP address, and from using cloud storage unless he notifies a police officer.

Detective Sergeant Mark Stratford said, "This was a complex investigation which relied on the expertise of officers and staff from the Norfolk and Suffolk Cybercrime Unit. This emerging type of criminality requires police investigators to be at the forefront of technological advancements in order to effectively combat the ever-growing paradigm of cybercrime."

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