GLENDALE — A Cyprus national who was allegedly involved in crimes while working for an internet business in Glendale has been extradited from that country to the United States to face several computer hacking-related charges, U.S. government officials said Saturday.
Joshua Polloso Epifaniou, 21, a resident of Nicosia, Cyprus, arrived in New York on Friday. He had been arrested in his home country in February 2018.
A five-count indictment filed in the Northern District of Georgia charges Epifaniou with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit computer fraud and identity theft, and extortion related to a protected computer. According to the indictment, between approximately October 2014 and November 2016, Epifaniou worked with co-conspirators to steal personal identifying information from user and customer databases at victim websites in order to extort the websites into paying ransoms under threat of public disclosure of the sensitive data.
Those businesses include an unspecified free online game publisher based in Irvine, as well as a hardware company based in New York City, an online employment website headquartered in Innsbrook, Virginia, and an online sports news website owned by Turner Broadcasting System Inc. in Atlanta.
Epifaniou is also charged in the District of Arizona in a 24-count indictment with conspiracy to commit computer hacking, obtaining information from a protected computer, intentional damage to a protected computer, and threatening to damage a protected computer.
That indictment alleges that on Oct. 30, 2016, Epifaniou obtained unauthorized access to the database of Ripoff Report (ROR), a company located in Phoenix, through a trial-and-error method used to obtain information, such as a user password or personal identification number. Between October 2016 and May 2017, Epifaniou allegedly worked with an associate at SEO Company, a search engine marketing company based in Glendale, to identify companies that might be interested in paying for removal of complaints posted on ROR’s website, which Epifaniou would then illegally remove through unauthorized access to the ROR database.
Epifaniou and his co-conspirator allegedly removed at least 100 complaints from the ROR database, charging SEO Company’s “clients” approximately $3,000 to $5,000 for removal of each complaint.
Attempts to reach SEO Company in Glendale for comment were unsuccessful.
The case was investigated by the FBI Atlanta and Phoenix field offices. Epifanou is scheduled for arraignment on Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman in the Northern District of Georgia.
It was not clear if Epifaniou had retained an attorney.
Source: Orange County Register