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Norwich teen who hacked TalkTalk on trial for stealing people's personal data and selling it to criminals

PUBLISHED: 08:05 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:05 02 April 2019

Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd

Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd

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A 19-year-old who was involved in hacking TalkTalk used his computer skills to make a "substantial fortune" by stealing people's personal data and selling it to criminals, 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 and making hundreds of thousands of pounds in crypto currency, which is a form of digital money, Norwich Crown Court was told.

Kevin Barry, prosecuting, described Gunton as an “extremely able and skilled” computer hacker, who was using the personal data he obtained to pass on to criminals.

Mr Barry said: “He has been deeply involved in extensive criminal activity with a view to making a large profit.”

He added: “The defendant took complex and sophisticated measures to conceal or cover up his activity online.”

He said that Gunton even boasted about the cash he was making as in one Twitter post he wrote: “Having lots of money is cool, but having a lot of money without people knowing is cooler.”

The jury heard that on his arrest he had more than £381,000 worth of the digital currency Bitcoin and police found he had bought himself a £10,000 Rolex watch using the currency.

“The defendant spent £10,000 worth of crypto currency on a Rolex watch from an online luxury site.”

He said that Gunton knew police were watching him so the crypto currency was good way of hiding the money he was making. He added: “As skilled and able the defendant is, he left behind clues. Despite his considerable efforts to hide his ill-gotten gains police have traced crypto currency worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

He said Gunton had never submitted a tax return or declared any earnings but had access to funds that most people would consider a small fortune.

Gunton tried to claim he got the money by trading in crypto currency but Mr Barry said the prosecution alleged it was profit made from selling recently acquired data to others.

He said personal data could be used by those criminally minded for their own ends: “Once they have control of your device or account they can do what they like with it. They can send messages to people that follow you and say what they like. It can be very serious.”

He said hackers exchanged ideas on a forum and said that Gunton was active on the site: “Computer hacking has become big business.”

He said that police also found Gunton had been using the forum to advertise data he obtained.

Mr Barry said in one post he had referred to having “fresh to market” details of high tier instagrammers.

Mr Barry said that meant the accounts had been freshly hacked and had not already been traded to others.

He said it was not the first time Gunton had been caught hacking computers and said when he was 16 he was involved in hacking TalkTalk.

He added: “He is willing to use his undoubted talents for criminal purposes. He has done so before and the prosecution say he has done it again.”

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.

The offences are said to have taken place between April 2017 and April 2018. Gunton has denied all charges.

Mr Barry said that Gunton is claiming that he did not have any criminal intent and any offers he made to supply hacked data were just “idle bragging”.

The trial continues.

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