March 28, 2023

Frenchman Sébastien Raoult, accused of cybercrime, was extradited to the United States and faces nine charges. He will be kept in detention until April 3, the date of the next hearing.

Filed by Interpol, Sébastien Raoult was arrested in Morocco on May 31, 2022 at Rabat-Salé airport and was extradited to the United States on January 25. He is accused, along with two other French nationals, Gabriel Bildstein, 23, and Abdel-Hakim El-Ahmadi, 22, of having formed a group of hackers called ShinyHunters. The three young men allegedly stole confidential data from 60 companies, including Americans such as Microsoft, the Bonobos clothing brand and the AT&T telephone operator. According to the American authorities, the three French people were identified thanks to their IP addresses and discussions on forums.

What was their modus operandi?

According to the indictment, released today, once their target was chosen, the ShinyHunters created a website similar to the authentication pages of real entities. Then, through emails, they lured employees to these fake sites to retrieve their credentials, which they then used to steal customer files and corporate financial information. This information stolen by the cybercriminals were then offered for sale on the dark web.

Gabriel Bildstein, one of the three accused, had also already been tried in France in 2019 for similar facts. He was accused of pirating the Youtube channel Vevo and the tube Despacito. He had nevertheless been declared criminally irresponsible, because he suffered from Asperger’s autism. Another investigation is also still ongoing in France on the hacking of Gatehub, a cryptocurrency platform.

What is Sébastien Raoult risking?

The young Frenchman was brought before American justice on January 27 in Seattle. The charges against him were brought by Federal Judge Michelle Peterson. Sebastien Raoult was assisted by a court-appointed lawyer and a translator. He faces nine charges, including criminal conspiracy, computer fraud and identity theft. Each of these counts carries penalties ranging from 2 to 27 years in prison.

According to Sébastien Raoult’s father, who confided in European 1, he faces up to 116 years in prison. Indeed, in the United States, prison sentences are cumulative and it is not surprising to see such heavy penalties.

The former computer science student pleaded “not guilty”. The prosecution, meanwhile, mentioned a “risk of flight”, so he is kept in detention until the next hearing scheduled for April 3.

The reactions of his relatives

The family and the lawyer of the young Frenchman did not wait to protest against his extradition. A few days before, his father had felt that the French authorities had not done enough to avoid his extradition. According to him, it is not up to American justice to judge this case: “It is up to a French judge to say” whether he is guilty or not. He also denounces the fact that France has not made an extradition request.

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