British Man Imprisoned over Porn Site Ransomware

man imprisoned due to porn site ransomwareA man from Essex was imprisoned with a six-year sentence for his actions in a ransomware conspiracy that did damages for millions around the world.

Who is Zain Qaiser?

Zain Qaiser, age 24 from Barking was a part of an organized crime group believed to be linked to the Lurk Group. Lurk created the now infamous Angler exploit kit. Using the nickname 'K!NG' it is believed he posed as a legitimate representative of online advertising agencies, looking to buy ad space for websites of a pornographic nature. The ads themselves were laced with malware, infecting any of the users who clicked on them with the Angler exploit kit and more, aiming to exploit any present vulnerabilities on infected machines.

The Qaiser and Lurk scheme

The payload delivered through these malware efforts was the Reveton ransomware in one of the cases. What the ransomware does is lock the user's screen before deploying a message allegedly from 'the authorities', claiming the user has broken a law and a fine has to be paid. The ransom ranges between 300 and 1000 USD in order to allegedly unlock their device.

The payments asked were made by victims using cryptocurrency, so the funds can be laundered. This showed that the group had international reach. In one case a US member transferred obtained ransom funds onto a pre-loaded set of credit cards using fake identities, then withdrew the cash and changed it back into cryptocurrency, transferring it to Qaiser. This was discovered by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The Essex local was said to be using a variety of false documents and identities to perpetuate the crime, such as fake passports to purchase the required ad space.

Whenever some of the ad agencies online started suspecting foul play, Qaiser would threaten them with 'child porn abuses', also DDoS-ing their networks in the process.

Millions of pounds in damage

Qaiser started working since 2012 until his arrest at the end of 2018. He made roughly £700,000 and ended up costing the affected companies about half a million pounds in mitigation and lost revenue as damage.

Qaiser admitted to 11 offenses, such as money laundering, fraud, blackmail, computer misuse and more. He is jailed at the Kingston Crown Court.

Nigel Leary, an NCA senior investigating officer has described the accomplices of Mr. Qaiser as 'one of the most sophisticated, serious and organized crime groups' the National Crime Agency has ever been after.

“Zain Qaiser was an integral part of this organized crime group generating millions of pounds in ransom payments by blackmailing countless victims and threatening them with bogus police investigations". Leary also added, commenting on the situation.

“In addition, when Qaiser's criminal enterprise was frustrated by diligent members of the online advertising community, he retaliated causing misery and hundreds of thousands of pounds in financial losses.”

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