A criminal who encouraged hackers to test out malicious cyber tools that can beat anti-virus scanners has been brought to justice by the National Crime Agency.
Goncalo Esteves, 24 from Colchester made thousands of pounds running the website reFUD.me.
Esteves called his encryption tools Cryptex Reborn and Cryptex Lite. Part of a family of cyber tools
known as crypters, they could be used by hackers to improve their chances of dodging anti-virus.
He sold them for use in packages which varied in price according to the length of the licence.
He advertised his website on the hackforums.net website, a well-known message board for cyber
criminals, under the description: “A free service that offers fast and reliable file scanning to ensure
that your files remain fully undetectable to anti-malware software.”
Under the pseudonym KillaMuvz, he also sold custom-made malware-disguising products and
offered technical support to users.
NCA officers discovered that Esteves made £32,000 from more than 800 PayPal transactions
between 2011 and 2015.
He is likely to have made far more, as this sum does not include payments in alternative payments
Esteves accepted such as Bit coin and Amazon vouchers.
Mike Hulett, head of operations at the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Esteves’s crimes
weren’t victimless. His clients were most likely preparing to target businesses and ordinary people
with fraud and extortion attempts.
“While offenders like Esteves try hard to stay hidden from law enforcement, NCA officers have the training and technical capability to detect them and put them before the courts.”
Adrian Flasher, Specialist Prosecutor in the Organised Crime Division at the CPS, said: "Goncalo Esteves designed, developed and sold software that disguised computer viruses used by cyber criminals which allowed anti-virus software to be bypassed and cybercrime carried out undetected.
“Esteves advised his customers about his products, discussed how they were to be used and how to use the software to achieve criminal objectives.
“The CPS advised investigators throughout the investigation and prosecution, enabling a strong case to be presented; namely, that Esteves knew exactly what the criminal aims of his customers were and that he had profited from his criminality in selling the tools for cybercrime.”
Esteves pleaded guilty to two computer misuse offences and a count of money laundering at Blackfriars Crown Court. He will be sentenced on Monday 12 February.