The founder of BreachForums made his first court appearance in the Eastern District of Virginia over a criminal complaint arising from his alleged creation and oversight of a prominent hacking forum and illicit marketplace for cybercriminals.
More than 340,000 individuals claimed to be members of the hacker forum. The FBI and Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) ran a disruption operation linked with his arrest on March 15, resulting in BreachForums being down.
According to court records, Conor Brian Fitzpatrick, 20, of Peekskill, New York, is accused of running BreachForums as a black market for hackers to exchange stolen or breached data since March 2022.
The Department of Justice reports that bank account information, social security numbers, other personally identifiable information (PII), means of identification, hacking tools, compromised databases, services for gaining unauthorized access to victim systems, and account login information for compromised online accounts with service providers and merchants were among the items stolen frequently sold on the platform.
Fitzpatrick’s claimed victims include millions of US residents and hundreds of US and international corporations, organizations, and government bodies.
Sensitive data from consumers of telecommunication, social media, investment, health care, and internet service providers were included in some of the stolen datasets.
For instance, on January 4, a user of BreachForums released the names and contact details of almost 200 million subscribers of a significant American social networking website.
Additionally, on December 18, 2022, a different BreachForums user revealed about 87,760 participants in InfraGard, a collaboration between the FBI and businesses in the private sector to safeguard vital infrastructure.
“Following the seizure of RaidForums last year, cyber criminals turned to BreachForums to buy and sell stolen data, including breached databases, hacking tools, and the personal and financial information of millions of U.S. citizens and businesses,” said Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office.
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“These databases belong to a wide variety of both U.S. and foreign companies, organizations, and government agencies. Fitzpatrick allegedly profited from the scheme by charging for forum credits and membership fees”, DOJ said.
Notably, the “Cracking,” “Leaks,” and “Tutorials” areas of the BreachForums website have been provided as extra support forums where users may discuss tools and methods for hacking and using stolen or compromised data.
A “Staff” section that appears to be run by the BreachForums moderators and administrators is also on the BreachForums website.
Fitzpatrick has been charged with conspiracy to conduct access device fraud. He might get a maximum sentence of five years in jail if found guilty.
“This case sends a clear message that illicitly stealing, selling, and trading the personal information of innocent members of the public will not be tolerated, and that malicious cyber actors will be held accountable,” said Special Agent in Charge Stephen Niemczak of the HHS-OIG.
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