3 teens behind internet crime forum Gh0stMarket get jail

The Guardian reports that three UK teenagers who created and ran "one of the world's largest English-language internet crime forums," described in court as "Crimebook", have been sentenced to up to 5 years in jail. Authorities estimated that losses from credit card data traded over Gh0stMarket.net totaled more than $26 million dollars. Threatening to blow up the head of the police unit in charge of internet crimes after an earlier arrest was probably an unwise move:


The web forum, which had 8,000 members worldwide, has been linked to hundreds of thousands of pounds of registered losses on 65,000 bank accounts. Nicholas Webber, the site's owner and founder, was arrested in October 2009 with the site's administrator, Ryan Thomas, after trying to pay a £1,000 hotel bill using stolen card details. They were then 18 and 17. Webber was jailed for five years on Wednesday and Thomas for four years.

After seizing Webber's laptop, police discovered details of 100,000 stolen credit cards and a trail back to the Gh0stMarket website. Webber and Thomas jumped bail that December, fleeing to Majorca, but were rearrested when they flew back to Gatwick airport on 31 January 2010.

Southwark crown court was told how public-school-educated Webber, the son of a former Guernsey politician, was using an offshore bank account in Costa Rica to process funds from the frauds. After his initial arrest, Webber threatened on a forum to blow up the head of the police e-crimes unit in retaliation, and used his hacking skills to trace officers' addresses.

Image: Nicholas Webber, who will spend the next five years in jail. Photograph: Gavin Rodgers, via Guardian.

Teenagers jailed for running £16m internet crime forum (Guardian, via Brian Krebs)


  1. I should have added that having worked most of my life with young ‘working-class’ people frequently in trouble with the law, I was particularly struck by the detail that these privately educated young men were using an offshore bank account in Costa Rica to process funds from the frauds.

    Inequalities in the British class system never cease to amaze me. However, maybe upon release they can be rehabilitated by working in the Treasury or, more likely, among the pig-troughers in the financial institutions of the City.

    1. But the article quote says public-school-educated Webber so it’s not as classist as you claim.

      1. Nadreck, in the UK a public school is actually a private school and what you understand to be a public school is called a state school.

        Don’t ask.

    2. I’ve known people who went to exclusive private schools here in the US. Several of them described them as holding tanks for the children of wealthy parents that didn’t want to deal with them. They also mentioned majoring in ‘drugs’ and ‘petty theft’.

      1. I went to one of these schools. My friends in the public school system (i.e. government-funded) were 100 times more honest and theft of personal property was almost unheard of. It was rife in my school.

        A couple of kids who got busted selling drugs in their previous school got sent to my school by their parents to put them on the “straight and narrow”. All it did was give them a bigger and more affluent customer-base. There was kids stealing science equipment because the local dealer would trade pyrex glassware for drugs.

        I got a decent education, but man private school was fucked up.

        Anyway, +1 on this making a better movie than The Social Network. How were they stupid enough not to think they would be caught at Gatwick?? Surely it would be better to try and slip in via a seaport in Scotland or Wales?

  2. Anyone else find it a little weird that the banks we trust to keep our money safe can’t even protect us from a few teenagers?

    1. No, wob, they have no longer have any interest in doing so. Their profits are not compromised by your losses. Sucks to be you, eh?

      Incidentally, in Old Blighty, “public school” means the same thing that “private school” means in Yankeeland.

    2. Yes, but those teens are very intelligent hackers, I think they should be punished because they broke the law, but jailing maybe is not the better way, I think they should enter a social rehabilitation program, with community hours, and supervised by some tutor. Once they are rehabilited, they should be given the opportunity to work honestly with a paid job, to help make better anti-hacking systems. Just my opinion, sometimes when people get jailed, they learn from other high level criminals, in this case the cure is worse than the disease.

      1. social rehab with community hours and a tutor. that sounds like a huge pain in the ass that probably wouldn’t result in anything practical.

  3. So they aided in the ripping off of a piddly 26 mil. Big Whoop.
    Wall street has ripped off closer to 26 trill and no one gives a toss.

  4. “Threatening to blow up the head of the police unit in charge of internet crimes after an earlier arrest was probably an unwise move”

    Why would threatening to blow up a toilet be unwise?

  5. 30 months (assuming 50% off for good behaviour) seems rather lenient for 26 big ones and a death threat but since cheating and theft are endemic to their class, they’re probably wondering what on earth all the fuss is about.

  6. “I’m a skinny White dude… I won’t make it. Somebody, some night takes a pipe from under the bed to my face — not to hurt me, but to break all my teeth out, so I can give ’em head all night without biting their dick off… “I’ll be a 28 year old punked-out ex-con with government issued dentures…” Quote Ed Norton in 25th Hour. O.k., they’ll be 23-24.And hopefully the UK Gaols are more merciful.

  7. white collar crime, white collar time. looks like that expensive education wasn’t wasted on them.

  8. These guys were ever-so-slightly clever, but mostly cocky and lazy.

    Lord knows if I’m behind some sort of venture such as this that EVERYTHING is encrypted, VPN’s, proxies, etc.

    Threatening the police was fucking dumb. You either attack them or don’t, but for fuck’s sake, don’t give them a heads-up. They surely wouldn’t give you the same courtesy.

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