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Teen ransomware ‘K!NG’ blew his loot on drugs, gambling, and sex

Shocking, we know.Image: ambar Del moral / mashableBy Jack Morse2019-04-09 21:15:46 UTC For years a teenager living just outside of London helped run an elaborate blackmail operation that bilked honest porn-site visitors out of their hard-earned cash — which he proceeded to blow on drugs, luxury hotels, gambling, sex workers, and at least one fancy…

Teen ransomware ‘K!NG’ blew his loot on drugs, gambling, and sex
Shocking, we know.
Shocking, we know.

Image: ambar Del moral / mashable

By Jack Morse

For years a teenager living just outside of London helped run an elaborate blackmail operation that bilked honest porn-site visitors out of their hard-earned cash — which he proceeded to blow on drugs, luxury hotels, gambling, sex workers, and at least one fancy £5,000 Rolex watch. 

Now, the 24-year-old Zain Qaiser, who went by K!NG online, has been sentenced to over six years in jail, and we’re getting a better picture of what the National Crime Agency is calling “one of the most sophisticated, serious and organised cyber crime groups” it has ever seen. 

SEE ALSO: And now professional golf is being ransomed for bitcoin

The scheme, which the UK’s NCA says was run in conjunction with a Russian-speaking organized crime group, got its tentacles into future victims’ computers via ads placed on porn sites. A person would click on one of Qaiser’s ads and then be redirected to a page containing the Angler Exploit Kit (AEK). If the computer was vulnerable, it would then install the malicious software. 

Here’s where things get interesting. After installing the ransomware, the victim’s computer would lock to a popup display — in some cases pretending to be from the FBI — demanding a ransom payment ranging from $300 to $1,000 to be paid in virtual currency. The money would then be turned into cash by accomplices in the U.S., laundered into cryptocurrency, and eventually sent back to Qaiser.

“The campaign infected millions of computers worldwide across multiple jurisdictions,” reads the NCA press release. 

One of the lock screens in question.

One of the lock screens in question.

Image: national crime agency

Some porn-site operators caught on and tried to kick the malicious ads off their sites, but Qaiser didn’t take too kindly to that. “I’ll first kill your server, then send child porn spam abuses,” he wrote to one such operator. 

The NCA says that Qaiser admitted to 11 offenses including blackmail, money laundering, and computer misuse.

“Zain Qaiser was an integral part of this organised crime group generating millions of pounds in ransom payments by blackmailing countless victims and threatening them with bogus police investigations,” reads the NCA press release. “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.”

Qaiser, who was first arrested in 2014, is said to have lived with his parents while he was scamming internet-porn lovers around the world. Officials say he made at least £700,000 through his schemes, although “the total is likely to have been very much higher.”

With Qaiser off the digital streets, we can now rest easy knowing that ads on pornography websites are once again safe to click. No, wait, they’re definitely still not. Be safe out there. 

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Bitcoin Beats Other Cryptos in ‘Smarter’ Bull Market, Says Billionaire Investor

Bitcoin Beats Other Cryptos in ‘Smarter’ Bull Market, Says Billionaire Investor

Bitcoin Beats Other Cryptos in ‘Smarter’ Bull Market, Says Billionaire InvestorBitcoin’s dominance will only be more pronounced in this bull market and that’ll show in its value, according to Mike Novogratz. | Source: ShutterstockBy CCN: Mike Novogratz, the billionaire CEO of Galaxy Capital and a former hedge fund manager at Fortress Investment Group, believes alternative cryptocurrencies, or altcoins, will be outperformed by bitcoin in the bull market.Not this time. Market getting smarter. $btc will outperform.— Michael Novogratz (@novogratz) May 19, 2019The statement of Novogratz comes after the bitcoin price risen by more than 115 percent year-to-date against the U.S. dollar, leading the crypto market to add $124 billion to its valuation.Will bitcoin continue to outperform altcoins?Historically, altcoins have relied on the price trend of bitcoin and have rarely demonstrated independent price movements in extended time frames.Altcoins typically surge in value when the bitcoin price shows stability at a tight price range, leaving investors to take high-risk and high-return options over the dominant cryptocurrency.The optimism towards bitcoin, despite the emergence of sophisticated altcoins, is well founded due to the involvement of major financial institutions in the likes of Fidelity and TD Ameritrade building infrastructure on top of bitcoin.Fidelity and ICE, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, are initially launching custodial services for bitcoin, targeting institutional investors.According to TD Ameritrade’s executive vice president Steven Quirk, tens of thousands of clients at the brokerage already trade crypto assets in some capacity.But, traders suggest that if the sentiment around the crypto market remains overwhelmingly positive, investors will eventually explore alternative opportunities for high-return trades, which then may fuel a rally for altcoins.One cryptocurrency trader said that bitcoin is likely to climb further throughout 2019, triggering a healthy market for altcoins:The rest of this year will be characterized by rapid BTC advances, healthy corrections and periods of sideways price action, when altcoins will fly. Put that nonsense rhetoric about waiting for capitulation and still not making our bear market lows away. Wrong cycle.Full on degen altcoin season still on track for June. Next few weeks, as BTC finds a range, we’ll continue to see the popular altcoins bounce back 1st. In June, all altcoins across the board will bounce back hard. More disbelief on its way.The concern of some investors like Novogratz on the prospect of a booming market for altcoins is that many retail investors were hurt in the 2017 bull market taking high-risk trades, trading against stable assets like bitcoin.As the market matures and as investors in the market become smarter, Novogratz indicated that the appetite for altcoins could decline.The crypto market has added more than $100 billion to its valuation year-to-date (source: coinmarketcap.com)Similarly, Jeff Sprecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, said in November 2018:Somehow bitcoin has lived in a swamp and survived. There are thousands of other tokens that you could argue are better but yet bitcoin continues to survive, thrive and attract attention.At the time, Sprecher emphasized that Bakkt, a futures market operator created by NYSE’s parent company ICE, will focus on building a regulated infrastructure for bitcoin first ahead of other assets.Sentiment is generally positiveOn May 17, as CCN reported, the bitcoin price plummeted by 18 percent within hours following an unexpected 5,000 BTC sell order on Bitstamp that led prices of bitcoin and ethereum to crash on BitMEX.The market absorbed the abrupt decline in the bitcoin price fairly well, indicating that the confidence in the near-term price trend of crypto assets remains strong.While investors have cautioned that bitcoin has shown oversold conditions in recent weeks as it surpassed key resistance levels, the momentum of the asset could prevent it facing a large correction some expect would occur in the near-term. About The AuthorJoseph YoungHong Kong-Based Finance and Cryptocurrency Analyst. Contributing regularly to CCN and Hacked. Providing unique insights into the crypto and fintech space since 2012.This article was edited by Samburaj Das.
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Bitcoin’s price has pumped beyond its ‘intrinsic value,’ JPMorgan says

Bitcoin’s price has pumped beyond its ‘intrinsic value,’ JPMorgan says

Banking behemoth JP Morgan Chase & Co. has taken another shot at Bitcoin, BTC claiming the cryptocurrency‘s latest rally has pushed its price beyond its “intrinsic value.”
“Over the past few days, the actual price has moved sharply over marginal cost,” JPMorgan analysts wrote in a note obtained by Bloomberg. “This divergence between actual and intrinsic values carries some echoes of the spike higher in late 2017, and at the time this divergence was resolved mostly by a reduction in actual prices.”

To come to this conclusion, the JP Morgan team treated Bitcoin as a commodity, calculating its “cost of production” based on a number of factors, including estimated computational power, electricity expense, and hardware energy efficiency.
“Defining an intrinsic or fair value for any cryptocurrency is clearly challenging,” the analysts continued. “Indeed, views range from some researchers arguing that it has no fundamental value, to others estimating fair values well in excess of current prices.”

Bitcoin‘s price briefly dropped from almost $8,000 to $7,050 on May 17, after $250 million of long positions got liquidated on BitMEX. Since then, BTC has surged back to $7,893 at the time of writing.
By now, JP Morgan has made a habit out of thrashing Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Back in 2017, CEO Jamie Dimon called the currency a “fraud” – a statement he later softened, suggesting he simply doesn’t care about Bitcoin. Since then, JP Morgan launched its own blockchain-based “digital currency,” which was neither a cryptocurrency, nor a stablecoin.

Published May 20, 2019 — 11:54 UTC

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