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A man has been jailed for obtaining customer records from a major broadcasting company, and then threatening to publish them on the dark web unless he was paid the equivalent of £44,286 in Bitcoin.
Imoudu Chaba, 37, of Heybrook Road, Baguley, was employed as a customer service representative at the company from 2011 to 2015. He claimed to have obtained the records while he worked at the company, after a manager left their computer unlocked and unattended.
An investigation by City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) revealed that, two years after he left the company, Chaba attempted to blackmail a senior member of staff and six customers out of a combined total of £47,286.
Chaba pleaded guilty at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court on Thursday 22 September 2022 to four counts of blackmail. He was sentenced to two years and four months imprisonment at the same court on Wednesday 26 October 2022.
Detective Constable Daniel Dankoff, from the City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), said:
“Chaba executed a shameless plot for his own financial gain. When his attempts to blackmail a senior member of staff proved unsuccessful, he began to target customers to exert pressure on the company.
“While Chaba used a variety of software to conceal his identity, this sentencing sends a clear message that we have the ability and tools to find criminals and stop their illicit activity.”
A senior member of staff at the broadcasting company received a letter that had been written by an anonymous former employee in January 2018. The letter claimed that they had obtained over one million customer records from a company database.
The former employee stated that they had been unfairly dismissed from their role and sought payment in Bitcoin, then worth £44,286, as compensation. They threatened to publish the customer records on the dark web if the Bitcoin was not paid into a cryptocurrency wallet by the end of the month.
The cryptocurrency wallet was set up using an email address that began with ‘cjack8102’. In October 2019, detectives became aware of an individual who was used the alias ‘CJACK8102’ on the dark web. They linked the email address and alias to Chaba.
Chaba was arrested by officers from PIPCU in March 2020. During a search of his residence, officers found a USB stick that contained a spreadsheet of the names and addresses of 11,400 of the broadcasting company’s customers, and a copy of the letter that had been received by the senior member of staff in 2018.
The laptop also contained another six letters, each addressed to a customer named on the spreadsheet. The letters informed the recipient that there had been a data breach at the company and demanded that they make a payment of £500 to prevent their personal details from being leaked further.
During his police interview, Chaba answered ‘no comment’ to all questions.