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A man who posted an online advertisement on Craigslist that appealed for the services of a cybercriminal to help wipe clean any trace of the fines he owed Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, US, has been sentenced to two to four years in prison.
Zachary J. Landis will spend at least 24 months behind bars, after pleading guilty to felony counts of computer trespass, unlawful use of a computer and tampering with public records.
The 27-year-old, who was arrested back in April, had stated in his advert that he was “willing to pay a good amount of money” to an individual who could “hack into pretty much anything”.
The post, which was titled Can You Hack???, was picked up by police officers during their routine “online patrols” and then referred to the office of Lancaster County’s district attorney Craig Stedman.
Considering the matter to be serious and genuine, it was decided that an undercover detective would pose as an enterprising cybercriminal who was keen to take up the commission.
Communication was eventually established with Mr Landis who, during the digital exchanges, requested that the detective prove his worth by erasing some of the cash he owed. Only after this point would he pay to have the job completed in full.
Eventually the team was able to piece together key bits of information, which revealed, for example, that he was using a Gmail account.
After contacting Google and Craigslist, they found that the email address belonged to Mr Landis (who was up until that point unknown), and that the advert had been made with this account.
Also, from this investigation, they obtained his number and established that the internet protocol address was registered to Mr Landis’ address in Harrisburg.
Mr Landis still owes more than $16,000 in victim restitution, fines and other court-related costs, the office of Lancaster County’s district attorney noted.
Author Narinder Purba, We Live Security