Published: Thu, November 23, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

Iranian charged in Game Of Thrones hack, extortion scheme

Iranian charged in Game Of Thrones hack, extortion scheme

USA prosecutors have charged an Iranian-based hacker with penetrating the network of cable TV provider HBO and stealing episodes and plot summaries for unaired programs including "Game of Thrones", then threatening to release the data unless he was paid $6 million.

United States prosecutors charged Mesri with the hack in a sealed indictment that was released on Tuesday, although Mesri is believed to be Iran. It is alleged Mesri, who also uses the name Skote Vahshat, stole episodes and storylines of dramas including the premium channel's worldwide hit Game of Thrones.

Mezri's pseudonym is "SkoteVashat" and he was allegedly part of an Iranian hacker group which goes by the name of Turk Black Hat.

"He will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and brought here", Kim said (via the BBC).

The copy of the complaint uploaded by The Daily Beast mentions Mesri as an expert in computer hacking techniques, who had allegedly worked on behalf of Iranian military to break into the computer systems of the world. If convicted, Variety reports, Mesri faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for wire fraud; up to five years for each of the four charges related to computer fraud; a two-year mandatory sentence for aggravated identity theft; and up to two years in prison for the extortion charge.

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Mesri, 29, a fugitive living in Iran who used the alias "Skote Vahshat", earlier this year infiltrated computer accounts of HBO employees authorized to remotely access the network's servers, the indictment says. "HBO is hacked!" an email allegedly originating from Mesri read. But at least HBO can have some amount of closure.

The second e-mail included an image of the "Night King", a Game of Thrones character, with the message "Good luck to HBO".

US prosecutors say Behzad Mesri previously worked for Iran's military, hacking into the IDF and Israel's critical infrastructure, before trying to blackmail the studio for $6 million worth of crypto-currency Bitcoin.

A spokesman with the U.S. Attorney's Office said that Mesri has not been arrested, but declined to comment on the suspect's whereabouts.

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