Student jailed for blackmailing porn users

Zain Qaiser

A student who made hundreds of thousands of pounds from blackmailing porn users with cyber attacks has been jailed.

Zain Qaiser, from Barking, London, used his programming skills to scam visitors to pornography sites around the world.

Investigators have discovered about £700,000 of his profits – but his network may have made more than £4m.

Qaiser, 24, was jailed for more than six years at Kingston Crown Court. The court heard he is the most prolific cyber criminal to be sentenced in the UK.

Judge Timothy Lamb QC said: “The harm caused by your offending was extensive – so extensive that there does not appear to be a reported case involving anything comparable.”

Initially working from his bedroom at his family home, Qaiser began to make money through “ransomware” attacks when he was only 17 years old. This is a form of attack in which a computer is hijacked and frozen by a small piece of software until the user pays a fee for its release.

Over 18 months, the teenager posed as a legitimate supplier of online promotions and booked advertising space on some of the world’s most popular legal pornography websites. But each of the adverts that was promoted on the websites contained a malicious tool called the “Angler”.

Any visitor to the adult site who clicked on one of Qaiser’s fake adverts would trigger the download to their own computer of the attack kit. If the home computer was not protected with up-to-date anti-virus software, the Angler would search for vulnerabilities and, if possible, deliver the “ransomware” that seized control of the machine.

It immediately splashed a full screen message to the user, purportedly from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, accusing the user of breaking the law – warning them they faced up to three years unless they paid an immediate fine equivalent to roughly $200 or £100.

“Out of fear of embarrassment from friends or family members discovering they had accessed pornography, many users paid the ransom,” prosecutor Joel Smith told Kingston Crown Court. “For obvious reasons very few people complained to law enforcement officials.”

To make thing worse, the warning page claimed that police had captured webcam images of the user during their visit to the adult website – and gave a deadline for the payment to be made.

During his offending, Qaiser had no legal income – but he maintained a high-rolling lifestyle.

He spent almost £5,000 on a Rolex watch and £2,000 on a stay in a Chelsea hotel. He regularly spent money on prostitutes, drugs and gambling, including almost £70,000 in a casino in an upmarket shopping centre.

Qaiser initially denied the crimes and claimed he had been hacked, before pleading guilty to 11 charges – including blackmail, fraud, computer offences and possessing criminal property.

The ransomware offences were committed between 2012 and 2014.

As you’re here…

5Pillars have one humble request from you…

Thousands of Muslims around the world visit our website for news every day. Due to the unfortunate reality of covering Muslim-related news in a heightened Islamophobic environment, our advertising and fundraising revenues have decreased significantly.

5Pillars is editorially and financially independent, with no sectarian or political allegiance to any particular group or movement. Our journalism has been exclusively grassroots focussed and our sole purpose is to defend Islam and Muslims in the media.

This makes us unique in comparison to other online Muslim media outlets who are neither independently regulated by a reputable body nor are they managed by qualified journalists.

Our journalism takes time, money and effort to deliver. But we do it because we believe we have a duty to Allah (swt).

You may not agree or like everything we publish. However, which other Muslim news site that is run by experienced journalists will take on the responsibility of being a shield for Islam and Muslims in the media?

If you follow 5Pillars, and you understand its importance in today’s climate, then please support us for as little as £5 a month, it only takes a minute to make a donation. Jazakallah khayran.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:“The best deeds are those done regularly, even if they are small.” [Ibn Mājah]

 

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT 5PILLARS

Shares 0

Add your comments below