Zain Qaiser jailed for five years over blackmailing porn users

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LONDON: A student Zain Qaiser who made hundreds of thousands of pounds blackmailing pornography website 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.”

His jail sentence of six years and five months is a second major success for the National Crime Agency (NCA) after the jailing earlier this year of a British man who broke an entire nation’s internet.

According to a BBC report, Qaiser was first arrested almost five years ago – but the case has been delayed because of the complexity of the investigation and mental health concerns. Initially working from his bedroom at his family home in Barking, 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. Qaiser reportedly contacted the Russian controller of one of the most potent attack tools and agreed a split of his profits if his planned blackmail operation was a success. In turn, he forged contacts with online criminals from China and the USA to help shift the cash.

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.