Romanian national extradited to US on hacking charges

The Romanian national is accused of breaking into accounts belonging to US government members and their family.

Romanian national Marcel Lehel Lazar has been extradited to the United States after being accused of hacking into social media and email accounts of the country officials and family members.

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CNET

On Friday, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a press release that the 44-year-old has made an appearance in a federal court based in Alexandria, Virginia to face the charges.

According to Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell from the DoJ's Criminal division, Lazar has been accused of cybercrime.

The man has been accused of nine offenses in total; three indictments for wire fraud, three counts of gaining unathorized access to protected computers, and one count each of aggravated identity theft, cyberstalking and obstruction of justice.

US prosecutors say that from December 2012 to January 2014, Lazar hacked into the email and social media accounts of high-profile victims, including family members belonging to former US presidents, an ex-cabinet member, a previous member of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and a past presidential advisor.

Once Lazar gained access to accounts belonging to these figures, the Romanian allegedly publicly released his victim's email messages, medical and financial information and photographs.

In addition, US law enforcement have also accused Lazar of impersonating one of the victims through July 2014 to August 2013 after compromising their account.

"Marcel Lazar is the latest of a dozen high-level cybercriminals who have recently been extradited to face justice in the United States," said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.

"Old-fashioned investigative work, enhanced international law enforcement relationships, and a long memory can ensure that foreign-based hackers have no safe haven even in the remote corners of the globe. As the saying goes, 'they can run, but they can't hide.'"

The case will be heard before US District Judge James Cacheris in Virginia.

See also: PayPal vulnerability allowed attackers to send fraudulent emails

In March, a Chinese national facing US law enforcement admitted he was involved in a campaign to steal sensitive data from US contractors. Su Bin was accused of directing hackers to valuable targets in the scheme and now faces up to five years in prison.

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