TWO POLISH CHAPS have been jailed for their parts in a blackmail attack on a Manchester-based online casino company.
Both men pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court to two offences each of blackmail and one offence of unauthorised acts on computers (under Computer Misuse Act 1990). They are 31-year-old Piotr Smirnow, of Warsaw, and Patryk Surmacki, 35, of Szezecin, Poland and they each get five years and four months in prison.
They had lined up two victims, one of which is based in Manchester and the other in the US. The former of the two victims knew the guilty parties, according to the Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
GMP said the men asked to meet the boss of the company, which they did. At that meeting Smirnow and Surmacki asked for a half share in the company, warning him that if he did not comply his software platform would be smashed into the ground by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
Their intended victim recorded the meeting on his phone and told the police. A few days later Smirnow and Surmacki unfurled a DDoS attack that cost the company £15,000. The second business, a US provider who provided the platform used by the Manchester firm, offered to mediate and was drawn into the web.
He arranged to meet the men at Heathrow airport to discuss why his company had been attacked, and thought to invite the police along to attend with him. GMP says he then made his excuses during the meeting and was replaced by various boys in blue. A video highlights reel has been released by the police.
"This was a very complex, dynamic investigation that centred on an emerging global cyber-threat. Denial of service attacks have become increasingly common offences in recent years and can have a devastating effect on the victim's online business. With millions of pounds and potentially dozens of jobs involved, Smirnow and Surmacki were playing for incredibly high stakes and clearly knew what they were doing," said detective inspector Chris Mossop, of the Serious Crime Division.
"They used their intimate, expert knowledge of online business to attempt to bully the victims into submission. They behaved like a couple of sinister playground bullies who thought they could use the threat of financial annihilation to extort compliance from these companies. But their greed was ultimately their downfall as they failed to reckon with the victims' bravery in the face of extreme intimidation." µ