Marcel Lehel Lazar, 44, of Arad, Romania, a hacker who used the online moniker “Guccifer,” pleaded guilty today to unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Director Bill A. Miller of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and Special Agent in Charge Brian J. Ebert of the U.S. Secret Service’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
“Cybercriminals like Marcel Lazar believe they can act with impunity from safe havens abroad, but the Justice Department’s partnerships with law enforcement agencies around the world ensure that they can be brought to justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Lazar sought fame by hacking the private online accounts of Americans and releasing their personal information to the public; instead, he has been convicted in United States federal court.”
“Mr. Lazar will be punished for violating the personal privacy of dozens of Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Boente. “These convictions show that cybercriminals cannot hide from justice. The United States will vigorously pursue these offenders, wherever they may hide.”
“Marcel Lazar, who hacked under the moniker ‘Guccifer,’ has now been brought to justice before a United States court,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate. “As a direct result of our global technological and investigative reach and strong international partnerships, we were able to successfully identify Guccifer and his criminal activities, and bring him to justice here in America. The FBI will continue to relentlessly hunt down criminals in cyberspace and around the world. I would like to commend the dedicated efforts of the agents, analysts, prosecutors and international partners who worked tirelessly to resolve this highly complex cyber investigation.”
“The success of this international investigation is the direct result of our long established partnerships with our federal and foreign law enforcement partners,” said Special Agent in Charge Ebert. “By working with our law enforcement partners around the world, we have disrupted and brought to justice some of the most prolific transnational cyber-criminals operating around the world. These continued partnerships will enable us to pursue cyber criminals wherever they operate.”
Lazar pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris of the Eastern District of Virginia, who set sentencing for Sept. 1, 2016.
In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Lazar admitted that from at least October 2012 to January 2014, he intentionally gained unauthorized access to personal email and social media accounts belonging to approximately 100 Americans, and he did so to unlawfully obtain his victims’ personal information and email correspondence. His victims included an immediate family member of two former U.S. presidents, a former member of the U.S. Cabinet, a former member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former presidential advisor, he admitted. Lazar admitted that in many instances, he publically released his victims’ private email correspondence, medical and financial information and personal photographs.
The FBI, DSS and the Secret Service investigated the case. Senior Counsel Ryan K. Dickey and Peter V. Roman of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maya D. Song and Jay V. Prabhu of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs has provided significant assistance. The Justice Department thanks the government of Romania for their assistance in this matter.