Accused British member of ‘Dark Overlord’ hacking collective appears in U.S. court

UK

(Reuters) – A man from the United Kingdom who prosecutors say was a member of the hacking collective known as “The Dark Overlord” appeared in a federal court in St. Louis, Missouri, on Wednesday following his extradition to face conspiracy and identity theft charges.

FILE PHOTO: An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code including cyrillic words around the shadow of a man, taken in Warsaw, October 8, 2014. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Nathan Wyatt, 39, pleaded not guilty to a U.S. District Court indictment handed down in November 2017 accusing the hacking group of stealing sensitive information from St. Louis-area companies and demanding ransom to keep it secret.

He was ordered held without bond pending further court proceedings.

“Today’s extradition shows that the hackers hiding behind The Dark Overlord moniker will be held accountable for their alleged extortion of American companies,” Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division said in a written statement.

“We are thankful for the close cooperation of our partners in the United Kingdom in ensuring that the defendant will face justice in U.S. court,” Benczkowski said.

The Justice Department did not say where in the UK Wyatt was taken into custody or if his accomplices in Dark Overlord had also been arrested during a lengthy investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

It was not immediately clear if Wyatt had retained a U.S. defense attorney following his extradition from the UK.

According to the indictment, starting in 2016 Wyatt and other members of Dark Overlord accessed computers owned by healthcare providers, a medical records company and accounting firm in the St. Louis area to obtain sensitive information.

The suspects then sent emails or text messages to victims threatening to release the secrets unless ransom was paid in bitcoin.

In one instance members of the Dark Overlord sent texts to the daughter of a business owner, starting: “hi … you look peaceful,” and telling her that her patient files would be released in four days because “your daddy” had refused to pay them.

It was not clear from the indictment if any of the victims paid the ransom or if sensitive files were released by Dark Overlord.

In January the shares of a blue-chip British insurer, Hiscox Ltd, dipped nearly 5% after the Dark Overlord claimed to have stolen 18,000 files from British insurance firms involved in litigation over the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

Wyatt was not charged in connection with that incident.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Culver City, Calif.; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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