NiceHash founder charged with committing fraud on Darkode

The FBI has its eyes set on an infamous darknet hacker.

Matjaž Škorjanc, the Slovenian founder of bitcoin mining marketplace NiceHash, has been charged with racketeering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. The charges related to data he is alleged to have fraudulently obtained and sold on Darkode, a leading cybercrime forum and black marketplace.

Darkode (aka Dark0de) was created by Škorjanc, operating under the alias “Iserdo.” The site was taken down in 2015, when more than 70 people were arrested. However, Darkode has been successfully brought back to life within the past few months.

Along with three other suspects, Škorjanc is accused of hacking bank account and credit card information in order to steal identities. It is alleged victims were defrauded of $4.5 million between 2008 and 2013, via the Darkode platform.

It’s not the first time that Škorjanc has been subject to scrutiny. In 2013, he was sentenced to four years and ten months in prison for creating malware used to create the “Mariposa” botnet, a network that infected more than one million infected computers. The malware was sold at prices ranging from $500 to $2,000.

Škorjanc set up NiceHash in 2014, along with Marko Kobal. The marketplace connects users who want to rent hardware for mining cryptocurrencies with those looking to lease their rigs.

In December, 2017, NiceHash was hacked for 4,700 bitcoin, worth $64 million at the time. Shortly after the hack, the company’s Head of Marketing, Andrej P. Škraba, told Reuters that it was “a highly professional attack with sophisticated social engineering.”

An American, a Spaniard and another Slovenian were also named in the indictment, which was unsealed on Sunday. Warrants have been issued for Škorjanc, 32, and the other Slovenian, Mentor Leniqi, 35. Both are still on the run. The American citizen, Thomas McCormick, 26, was arrested last December.

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