British Hacker Pleads Guilty to Blackmailing Lloyds Bank for Bitcoin

Lewys Martin, a 22 year old “hacker”, who was threatening to expose personal data of 28,000 customers of Lloyds Bank, pled guilty at Southwark Crown Court on September 3, 2014.

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British Hacker Pleads Guilty to Blackmailing Lloyds Bank for Bitcoin

Lewys Martin, a 22 year old “hacker”, who was threatening to expose personal data of 28,000 customers of Lloyds Bank, pled guilty at Southwark Crown Court on September 3, 2014 to blackmail, possession of articles for use in fraud and possession of indecent images of children. Little is actually known about the defendant, except that he had previously lived in Deal in Kent. The case was originally reported to police by the Lloyd’s Banking Group and The Sun newspapers, both of whom claimed that they were being blackmailed by someone who had obtained the bank account details of approximately 28,000 of their customers.

- Lewys Martin

According to complainants Martin threatened to sell the data to criminals who would use it in identity theft scams. In return for his silence Martin demanded one Bitcoin for every ten records in his possession, or 2,800 Bitcoin. Unfortunately Martin also has a checkered past to add to his current troubles. In 2013 he was convicted of staging cyber-attacks on the Oxford and Cambridge websites. Martin had flooded their servers with so many request that they were forced to shut down for a period. He was unable at this time to steal any personal information but only because of excellent security protocols put into place by the respective universities. He is also said to have attacked the servers of the Kent Police last February, forcing them to close down temporarily.

It is important to note a few things about his case however. Martin was not able to penetrate the bank’s computers to get the information. Instead he used phishing programmed to steal data directly from the banks customers. He was using special software to shield his IP address and thus his identity but police were able to track him down. When his property was searched investigators found some of the compromised banking information and at least three phishing programs. Experts were also able to retrieve suggestive images of children on his computer that he is also likely to be charged with along with the computer fraud.

Martin was not immediately sentenced for his crimes however. Judge Peter Testar decided to honor a defense request for pre-sentence testing for both autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. But he was also clear that he considered Martin’s offences to be very serious when he said:

"The defense must of course appreciate that these are very serious offences and can lead to serious consequences. The fact that I am asking for reports from probation services should not mislead you about that. It is really just so that the court has the most information about you that it can possibly have. These are serious matters."

One interesting comment by someone who allegedly went to school with Martin might cast doubt on his autism defense however. The comment followed a story in Kent Online and was made by Chlo Munro:

"He was in my year at school, he didn't appear to have autism or Asperger's syndrome then and I work with adults who have that and he is not one of them... He's just a sick and twisted little boy! Just wants a shorter sentence I think!!!"

Martin is scheduled for sentencing on October 16, 2014 in the same court that he pled guilty in and is currently being held in Wandsworth prison. There have been no releases concerning his possible sentence on the various charges but his guilty pleas on all charges and his previous criminal activity probably means that he will not receive a light sentence. Martin is also still facing the refusal to unlock encryption charges that he received earlier last year when he refused to allow investigators to search his data, forcing  them to  use forensic experts.

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