Cybercriminal from Cyprus sentenced for extorting Phoenix-based website
PHOENIX – A cybercriminal from Cyprus has pleaded guilty to extorting multiple American websites, including one based in Phoenix, according to federal authorities.
Joshua Polloso Epifaniou, 22, was the first Cypriot national to be extradited to the United States, the Justice Department said in a press release Wednesday.
“Epifaniou harvested the personal information of website users to extort website operators into paying large ransoms,” Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine said in the release.
A judge sentenced him one year in federal prison, on top of credit for nearly four years in custody before his sentencing hearing. Epifaniou paid his victims nearly $600,000 in restitution.
Epifaniou was a teenager living with his mother when he carried out the scheme between at least October 2014 and November 2016, according to the release.
A consumer report website headquartered in Phoenix was among his victims. He also extorted a sports news website owned by Turner Broadcasting System, a California-based online game publisher, a New York hardware company and a Virginia-based online employment website.
After Epifaniou and co-conspirators stole sensitive information from the sites, they threatened to leak the data if the victims didn’t pay a ransom in cryptocurrency, according to the release.