A British hacker who brought the entire nation of Liberia offline more than seven years ago was arraigned before a US federal court today, facing new charges of access device fraud and money laundering conspiracy.
The hacker, Daniel Kaye, has been accused of operating a dark web marketplace called The Real Deal for stolen login information for social media and bank accounts, US government devices, and a variety of illicit goods like drugs and unlawful hacking tools. The Real Deal allowed third-party vendors to set up online stores and purchasers to rate sellers based on their authenticity.
“This case is an example of our persistent determination to work with our international partners to hold criminals accountable no matter how sophisticated their cyber fraud or their geographic location,” Keri Farley, special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta, said in a statement. “Let this indictment be a message that the FBI and our partners place a high priority on the investigation and prosecution of hackers who intrude into our infrastructure and threaten the personal security of our citizens.”
After operating The Real Deal for nearly a year, Kaye vanished in August 2016 shortly after other site administrators were said to have been arrested, according to Motherboard.
While the charges pertain to Kaye’s alleged illicit online marketplace, the hacker previously pleaded guilty in 2019 to a London court for launching a series of cyberattacks against a Liberian telecommunications company, taking down the country’s internet for several days. CNN reported that Kaye was hired by a senior employee at a rival telecom company called Cellcom, but it’s not clear that other company leaders were aware of the plan.
Kaye was sentenced to over two years in prison.
Today’s indictment accuses Kaye of selling the login information for computers belonging to US agencies like NASA, the CDC, and the US Postal Service. Prosecutors are also charging him for laundering cryptocurrency he received from The Real Deal’s sales.
“While living overseas, this defendant allegedly operated an illegal website that made hacking tools and login credentials available for purchase, including those for U.S. government agencies,” US attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a statement.