updated 4/4/2012 1:51:55 PM ET 2012-04-04T17:51:55

A 23-year-old British hacker who swiped the identities of 8 million victims and shut down part of Nokia's internal network for two weeks will spend the next 26 months behind bars.

Edward Pearson, from York, in Northern England, used several covert cyberweapons, including the notorious bank-account-stealing Zeus Trojan, to steal credit card numbers and other confidential data from his United Kingdom victims during an 18-month stretch ending Aug. 30, 2011, the Daily Mail reported.

On his computers, police found 200,000 stolen PayPal accounts, the numbers of 2,701 bank cards and 8,110,474 names, dates of birth and postcodes for U.K. residents. Police investigating Pearson's fraud said if all the details of what he had harvested were printed out, it would fill 67,500 sheets of paper.

Pearson, who went by the online tag "G-Zero," also hacked into the networks of Nokia and AOL, and copied the personal details  of more than 8,000 staff members. Following his intrusion, Nokia's internal network was down for two weeks, the Daily Mail said.

In court, Pearson's lawyer said his client performed the hacks not for profit, but more as "an intellectual challenge."

Pearson was ultimately brought to justice after his 21-year-old girlfriend, Cassandra Mennim, a University of York student, tried to pay for two luxury hotels in York with forged credit cards. Mennim was sentenced to 12 months of supervised release.

On his CyberCrime & Doing Time blog, Gary Warner, the director of research in Computer Forensics at the University of Alabama, explained that Pearson, in his G-Zero alias, had been active on cybercrime forums for years before his hacking campaign. In 2009, Warner wrote, Pearson tried to share an online video ripping system on the DigitalSpy forum; at the time, he registered his service with his name, email address, home address and phone number.

Warner also said that, according to the original charges, Pearson and his girlfriend were also dealing the drug MDVP, a psychoactive drug also known as "Super Coke." Those charges, Warner wrote, were dropped.

A prosecutor in the case told the Daily Mail Pearson could have made off with more than $13 million if he hadn't been caught. Pearson was only able to successfully steal about $3,700 before he was arrested. Most of the money he stole  was used to order fast food, pizza, and to pay off his cellphone bills, the Daily Mail said.

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved


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