The state of Georgia is on trial over the first Cypriot citizen extradited to the United States on charges of cyberattack and extortion.
Joshua Polloso Epiphaniou, a 21-year-old resident of Nicosia, was arrested on the island in February 2018 and extradited to America in mid-July this year. He was charged with cyberattack and extortion.
According to a US Department of Justice press release, he committed $ 56,850 worth of bitcoin fraud, and two other victims of his attacks suffered more than $ 530,000 in recovery costs related to the incident. Epifaniou is accused of conspiracy to commit online fraud, identity theft, and extortion.
From October 2014 to November 2016, Epiphanius and his accomplices stole personal information from user and customer databases on several sites. After stealing data, he began to extort money from companies, threatening to put confidential data on the network. Victims include a California-based free online game maker, a computer software manufacturer based in New York, an Internet job search company headquartered in Innsbruck, Virginia, and a sports news site owned by Turner Broadcasting System Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia. Epiphanius managed to steal the data either by directly attacking unsecured areas of the sites, or by obtaining some of the user data from an accomplice who hacked into the victim’s vault.
After receiving personal information, Epiphanius used proxy servers located in third countries to log into his e-mail, from which he sent messages threatening to leak confidential data to the Internet if he did not receive a ransom.
As a reminder, in 2013, Cyprus amended the Constitution, which allowed the extradition of Cypriot citizens to a European country or to a third country on the basis of a European arrest warrant or on the basis of cooperation agreements signed by the Republic of Cyprus. Joshua Epiphaniou is the first Cypriot to be affected by this amendment to the Basic Law. The media reports that Epiphanius suffers from Asperger’s syndrome.