CBI arrests man who `hacked` over 900 accounts for a fee
In first of its kind international operation, CBI on Friday cracked down on hacking hubs at multiple locations in Mumbai, Pune and Ghaziabad on inputs received from the US probe agency FBI, arresting one person under the violation of Information Technology Act.
New Delhi: In a first-of-its-kind synchronised operation, the CBI on Friday acted on the inputs of FBI to arrest a man from Pune who allegedly hacked over 900 e-mail accounts across the globe for clients ranging from individuals to corporates.
CBI sources said they had inputs from the US probe agency on the activities of Amit Vikram Tiwari, son of a senior Army officer. He was arrested for alleged violation of the Information Technology Act.
The sources said 30-year-old Tiwari was allegedly working for his clients through two websites -- www.Hirehacker.Net and www.Anonymiti.Com -- with servers located in the US offering services of illegally accessing passwords of e-mail accounts in exchange for a fee varying from USD 250-500.
They said payments were allegedly routed through Western Union and Paypal.
They said during initial questioning, it has surfaced that Tiwari allegedly hacked into 900 email accounts between February 2011-2013, of which 171 were Indian victims. The clients varied from individuals to corporates.
CBI sources said they are still probing whether national security was compromised by Tiwari`s acts.
The sources said there is information that people linked with Indian Premier League also tried to rope in Tiwari but talks failed over payment issues. The agency is still verifying these claims.
Based on the FBI inputs, the CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry and carried out detailed ground work to locate Tiwari who was also arrested by the Mumbai Police nearly 10 years ago for cheating a credit card company.
After collecting prima facie evidence, CBI registered two FIRs under IPC of theft and provisions of violation of Information Technology Act relating to identity theft (Section 66(c)) read with provisions of hacking and assisting in stealing information.
After filing cases, the CBI carried out searches in Mumbai, Pune and Ghaziabad today which were synchronised for the first time with similar operations in China, Romania and the US by the agencies of the respective countries, the sources said.
Association of Tiwari with hacker groups in the US, Romania and China is still a matter of probe but it has become clear that some of his clients were based in these countries, the CBI sources said.
They added that while CBI was handling probe and searches in India, Department for Combating Organised Crime in Romania and Ministry of Public Security in China carried out operations in their countries.
On Tiwari`s modus operandi, they said, customers who wanted unauthorised access to email accounts used to submit particulars of those accounts on the websites run by him.
"Upon receipt of the order as well as the email addresses, the website operators used to gain access to such e-mail accounts and send a proof of such access to the customers. On the receipt of payment from customers these website operators share the password with them," a senior official said.
In addition to searches at Tiwari`s residence in Pune, the agency also carried out raids at hubs in Mumbai and Ghaziabad where people believed to have been his associates and clients were based.
The FBI has launched major operation against hackers located globally last year as part of which Romanian authorities arrested a hacker known as Guccifer yesterday who was infamous for hacking into accounts of powerful leaders.
It is alleged that Guccifer leaked online Colin Powell`s personal emails, an unreleased script of Downton Abbey, and the paintings of George W Bush.
Agency sources said they had no information about arrests made in Romania and China as it was the domain of authorities in those countries and it was only concerned with the probe in India.