Hacker accused of stealing data said he would be a ‘millionaire in three years’
PUBLISHED: 14:47 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:06 02 April 2019
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A computer hacker told police he “would be a millionaire in three years” despite having no discernible income, a court heard.
Elliott Gunton, who was convicted of hacking TalkTalk when he was 16, was having his computer use monitored by police when they discovered he was profiting from selling hacked data, Norwich Crown Court was told.
Gunton, who had amassed a crypto-currency wealth of more than $381,000, claims he made the fortune out of “stocks and shares”.
The 19-year-old was being monitored by police as part of a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) imposed in June 2016 after indecent images of children were found on his laptop.
Det Con Jamie Hollis, of the public protection unit at Norfolk Police, said Gunton had been visited four times between August 2016 and December 2017 to ensure he was complying with the order.
In June 2017 a ‘field search’ was conducted of his devices and officers noted Gunton was talking on hacker forums.
“Our unit does not have specialist software for home visits and we have to rely on the honesty of the offender,” said DC Hollis. “It would be impossible for us to know if he has deleted any history.”
By April 22 last year when police visited Gunton’s home at Mounteney Close, the teenager reset his laptop password to allow officers access.
The public protection team took the device to give it a “thorough search” as they had learned Gunton was planning to appeal his SHPO.
Officers found software called CCleaner had been installed. It enabled deletion of computer history and programmes - a breach of the terms of the order.
DC Hollis told the court police had also become suspicious of Gunton’s earnings.
“Even though he was telling us he had no income he was happy to carry on working on the internet,” DC Hollis said.
“His mother was very concerned all he did was spend time in his room on his computer.
“He said he was involved in stocks and shares and that is where he could make his money. He was adamant he would be a millionaire in three years.”
Matthew McNiff, for Gunton, said the conditions of the SHPO made it almost impossible for him to take a job.
“There was a rather large accountancy firm to engage his expertise to assist them with their cyber security, but their needs were such that order simply neutralised that opportunity.
“He said ‘my world is the cyber world and that is why people want me’. This order makes it impossible.”
MORE: Norwich teen who hacked TalkTalk on trial for stealing people’s personal data and selling it to criminals
After Gunton’s laptop was seized an investigation was launched. Two weeks later officers moved to arrest the 19-year-old and search his home.
Officer in the case DC Mark Stratford, of the cyber and serious organised crime directorate, said they seized an iPhone and a £10,000 Rolex watch which had been concealed in a safe in the kitchen.
They also found a nano ledger - a device the size of a USB thumb drive used to protect crypto-currency.
It held the “key to the vault” of Gunton’s account, DC Stratford said. It is protected by an eight digit pin, or a recovery phrase of 24 random words.
Officers asked Gunton for the codes to the device, but he gave a no comment interview.
But two weeks before the arrest, DC Stratford told the court he had used digital footprints on Gunton’s laptop to obtain his public crypto-currency account numbers.
He then searched the blockchain - which stores a record of each Bitcoin transaction - to view his accounts.
There were “significant” deposits of Bitcoin worth more than $100,000 into his account on December 18, 2017, he told the court.
Gunton is charged with five counts including charges under the Computer Misuse Act 1990,
The charges include supplying profile user names and email accounts believing that they were likely to be used to commit or to assist in the commission of an offence.
Gunton is also charged with money laundering charges involving crypto currency.
He is also charged with breaching his sexual harm prevention order. Gunton has denied all charges.
The trial continues.
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