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A BARKING computer hacker who used malicious software to blackmail people all over the world has been ordered to pay back more than £270,000.
Zain Qaiser, 25, was jailed for more than six years in April 2019, after he admitted being a part of a Russian-speaking cyber crime gang.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the gang had made millions of pounds by blackmailing victims in more than 20 countries.
Qaiser, of Wakering Road, used fake identities and companies to pose as legitimate online advertising agencies.
He bought advertising traffic from porn websites, then used the ad spaces to host adverts ‘laced with malicious software, known as malware’.
When users clicked on the ads, they were redirected to another website where, if their computer was vulnerable, it would be infected with malicious software created by one of Qaiser’s accomplices.
The software would lock the user’s web browser and display a message, claiming to be from a Government or law enforcement agency, claiming the user had committed an offence by visiting the porn website and was liable to pay a fine between $300 and $1,000.
Their device would only be unlocked if they paid the ‘fine’.
The gang’s software infects ‘millions of computers worldwide’, said the NCA.
Whilse investigating Qaiser, the agency found a series of accounts – including one offshore, filled with an online crypto-currency – which contained more than £100,000, despite Qaiser having no job or declared earnings.
He used the illegal earnings to live the high life, staying in luxury hotels, hiring prostitutes, gambling, using drugs and buying expensive items, including a £5,000 Rolex watch.
He eventually pleaded guilty to 11 offences, including fraud, blackmail, money-laundering and computer misuse.
He has now appeared at Kingston Crown Court, where he was ordered to repay some of his criminally-urged profits.
The court ordered him to repay £270,864.47.
The figure was based on an assessment of his available assets.
The order means he must sell his possessions, including his Rolex, in order to raise the funds.
If he does not repay the money, he will face another two years in prison – and the debt will remain.
Nigel Leary, head of operations at the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Zain Qaiser was an integral part of a highly sophisticated cyber crime group.
“He assisted the group in generating millions of pounds in random payments by blackmailing countless victims, from which he himself profited hugely.
“Confiscation orders are a key tool in allowing us to pursue illegally-obtained assets and preventing convicted criminals from funding luxury lifestyles on their release.
“This was an extremely long-running and complex investigation, which proves that we will use all the tools at our disposal to ensure cyber criminals are brought to justice and cannot continue to benefit from their illicit earnings.”