Slovenian Hacker Involved in Intl Scheme on Trial

08. 08. 2012

Slovenian Hacker Involved in Intl Scheme on Trial

A trial started at the Maribor District Court on Monday, in which a 26-year-old Slovenian hacker known as Iserdo stands accused of being the mastermind behind the Mariposa botnet, which was dismantled in an international cyber crime sting in 2010.

His mother and former girlfriend also face charges for money laundering and complicity to money laundering.

Matjaž Škorjanc, who has rejected a plea bargain, is being charged with money laundering and creating a malware for hacking into IT systems.


The prosecution believes he created the malware between March 2008 and May 2011 and then put it up for sale on-line.


One of the buyers was a Spanish criminal association, who used the software to create the Mariposa botnet which infected thousands of computers around the world.



According to the indictment that was read at today's hearing, at least 23,000 computers were infected with the botnet malware, including a Canadian defence network of servers of government and other institutions. The damage caused has been estimated at some EUR 3.3m.


Škorjanc sold the code for the malware at least 233 times and got the money transferred to the bank account of his then girlfriend Nuša Čoh, who then regularly delivered him the money in cash, according to the prosecution.


Škorjanc is believed to have gained EUR 115,000 from the deals, which he used to buy an apartment, a car and expensive computer and other electronic gear.


In line with the indictment, the 26-year-old Čoh, a doctor, is charged with complicity to money laundering. However, she denied the charges today, saying that she had not known that Škorjanc's business had been "in any way controversial or harmful".


She told the court she had met the defendant in 2007 during her medical studies "as a hard-working and honest student" whom she had "completely trusted". She said she had thought the transferring of money into her account was to do with tax avoidance.


When the Mariposa botnet was dismantled in an international probe involving the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the clues led to Škorjanc, who was arrested in July 2010 only to be released soon after due to lack of evidence.


However, according to the indictment, he got back to his dealings soon after the release, and he was apprehended again in October 2011 in his apartment in Maribor. He has been in custody since.


The US demanded his extradition last year, but Slovenia denied the request in line with the country's policy of non-extradition of its citizens.


According to media reports, Škorjanc could get up to 65 years in prison in the US, while in Slovenia the prosecution is expected to demand six years and a half and the confiscation all Škorjanc's illegally obtained assets.


Čoh should meanwhile be sentenced to a year and a half, the prosecution believes.


Škorjanc's lawyer Janko Jerman said his client "has nothing to do with the controversial malware", saying the prosecution has launched the procedure "because of pressure from the FBI". "I think there are doubts here about the sheer existence of a crime. And it was most definitely not done by my client," he said.


The defence demanded today that Škorjanc be released from custody and be presented with all the evidence against him, based on which he could build his defence.


The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday, which is when the presentation of documents confiscated as evidence that comprise more that 6,000 pages will start.


Due to the extent of the evidence documentation it is not clear when Škorjanc will give his statement or when witnesses will be heard, which according to prosecutor Iztok Krumpak include US experts.


Among the defendants is also Škorjanc's mother Zdenka Škrojanc, who stands accused of money laundering, but she will be tried separately for health reasons.


Two other codefendants, Slovenian Darko Goričanac and Serbian citizen with Slovenian residence Mentor Leniqi, had pleaded guilty in a pre-trial hearing and stricken a deal with the prosecution.


Goričanac got a year and half prison sentence and Leniqi a year and three months. Both will serve their sentences in 480 hours of community service in two years.


Source: The Slovenian Times


Slovenian Hacker Involved in Intl Scheme on Trial