Cypriot hacker extradited to the U.S. to face charges

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The United States Department of Justice has extradited two criminals from the Republic of Cyprus — one a computer hacker suspected of cyber intrusions and extortion, and the other a money launderer with known connections to Hezbollah, The Hacker News reported.

21-year-old Joshua Polloso Epifaniou hacked the Ripoff Report (ROR) in 2016. According to The Hacker News, the Nicosia resident attempted to extort the company after emailing the CEO with a hyperlink to a video demonstrating Epifaniou's unauthorised access to the ROR CEO's account, threatening him to publicly disseminate stolen ROR data unless he paid $90,000 within 48 hours.

He is also accused of hacking a free online game publisher based in Irvine, California, a hardware company based in New York, an online employment site headquartered in Innsbrook, Virginia, and an online sports news website owned by Turner Broadcasting System Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Cypriot national is wanted in both the Northern District of Georgia and the District of Arizona as he is alleged to have defrauded the entities of $56,850 in bitcoin and two victims incurred losses of over $530,000 from remediation costs associated with the incident.

Epiphaniou, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, has been in jail in Cyprus for over two years following his arrest in February 2018.

Meanwhile, Ghassan Diab was extradited on Friday and wanted in Florida for allegedly being a member of Hezbollah, the political-militant group that the U.S. recognises as a terrorist organisation.

According to The Hacker News, Diab conspired to launder drug proceeds, money laundering of more than $100,000, conspired to launder a further $100,000, as well as accused of the unlicensed transmission of currency of over $100,000, and unlawful use of a two-way communications device to further the commission of money laundering.

Diab is charged with a total of 8 federal counts, all felonies under Florida law.

Joshua Polloso Epifaniou file

Cyprus amended its Constitution in 2013 to allow for the extradition of Cypriot nationals to a European country or to a third country on the basis of a European arrest warrant or on the basis of a bilateral or multilateral treaty that the republic has signed.

“These successful extraditions demonstrate the commitment of the Department of Justice to support local, state and federal law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and our strong working relationship with dedicated foreign partners who assist in apprehending foreign fugitives wherever they may be hiding,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

“Thanks to the efforts of our law enforcement partners in Cyprus, Ghassan Diab and Joshua Polloso Epifaniou will now be held accountable in the United States for their alleged crimes," he added.