Ripoff Report Hacker Gets 12 Months in Prison

The United States Department of Justice on Wednesday announced that a Cypriot national who admitted to hacking the websites of various U.S.-based companies was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, on top of the four years already served in custody.

The man, Joshua Polloso Epifaniou, now 22, of Nicosia, Cyprus, was arrested in his country in May 2017 and was extradited to the United States in July 2020.

In January 2021, Epifaniou admitted in court to perpetrating a scheme in which he hacked the websites of multiple companies, exfiltrated data of interest, and then contacted the victim organizations to demand a ransom payment, threatening to make the data public.

The hacker perpetrated the intrusions between October 2014 and May 2017. Some of the victims include an Atlanta sports news website of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., a California-based free online game publisher, a New York hardware company, the Ripoff Report consumer report website, and a Virginia-based online employment website.

Working with co-conspirator Pierre Zarokian, Epifaniou not only extorted Ripoff Report, but also hacked into the website to remove complaints for paying customers, charging between $1,000 and $5,000 per removed complaint, claiming that the removals were court-ordered. Zarokian was sentenced in 2020.

Epifaniou also agreed to forfeit $389,113 and 70,000 euros to the government, and to pay roughly $600,000 in restitution to the victims.

He is the first Cypriot to have ever been extradited from Cyprus to the U.S.

Related: ‘Money Mule’ Operator Gets Seven-Year Prison Sentence

Related: Hacker Closing Out Prison Sentence in Chicago Halfway House

Related: Russian Sentenced to Prison in U.S. for Role in Cybercrime Scheme

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Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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