Yorkshire ‘hacktivist’ arrest in global swoop by police and FBI

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A man from South Yorkshire has been accused of being part of a global hacking group by the FBI and has been charged by the UK authorities in connection with alleged computer crime.

Ryan Ackroyd, 25, from Oak Road, Mexborough, was one of five people yesterday charged in a federal court in New York with involvement in the elite hacking organisation known as Lulz Security or LulzSec. Authorities revealed a sixth person, Hector Xavier Monsegur, had pleaded guilty and turned informant.

But Ackroyd, aka “kayla”, “lol” and “lolspoon” according to the US court papers, was also charged by the Metropolitan Police last night following their own investigation into alleged criminal activity of the so-called “hacktivist” group LulzSec.

A spokesman for the Met said Ackroyd would appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on March 16 charged with two counts of conspiracy relating to the use of computers contrary to Section 1 of the Criminal Law Act.

A 17-year-old youth from south London was also charged with the same offence. Two other men – Ryan Cleary, 19, from Essex, and Jake Davis, 18, from Shetland – have previously been charged with a number of offences under the Criminal Law and Computer Misuse acts in relation to the same inquiry.

Davis is one of the five also charged in the US.

The US court papers portray Monsegur, from New York, as the ringleader and one of the world’s most-wanted computer vandals – known in the hacking underworld as “Sabu”.

Despite the organisation’s light-hearted name, authorities said Monsegur and his followers embarked on a stream of deeds against business and government entities in the US and around the world, resulting in the theft of confidential information, the defacing of websites and attacks that temporarily put victims out of business.

Their exploits included attacks on cyber-security firms and the posting of a fake story that murdered rapper Tupac Shakur was alive in New Zealand.

As their exploits became known, some hackers with the group boasted about their prowess.

Monsegur was charged with conspiracy to engage in computer hacking, among other offences. Authorities said he pleaded guilty on August 15.

According to the court papers, he was an “influential member of three hacking organisations – Anonymous, Internet Feds and Lulz Security – that were responsible for multiple cyber attacks on the computer systems of various businesses and governments in the United States and throughout the world”.

According to the documents, he acted as a “rooter”, a hacker who identified vulnerabilities in the computer systems of potential victims.

The court papers said he participated in attacks over the past few years on Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, government computers in Tunisia, Algeria, Yemeni and Zimbabwe, Fox Broadcasting, the Tribune, PBS and the US Senate.

Swoops on the hardline hacking outfit yesterday involved law enforcement agencies in the US, Britain and Ireland.

The loose collection of LulzSec hackers have claimed responsibility for a variety of cyber attacks on big companies such as Sony and also on law enforcement and government agencies such as the CIA and FBI.

In Ireland, the website of ruling coalition Government party Fine Gael was hacked and shut down in 2011 but the incident was at the time alleged to have been linked to Anonymous.

Two men, including the son of a county councillor, were detained in September last year over the attack and later released without charge.