March 3, 2011 at 11:07 AM ET
Several teenagers are about to rot in jail for creating Gh0stMarket.net, a site which has been dubbed "Crimebook" and has been described as the "criminal equivalent of Facebook."
The Guardian reports that the group of individuals responsible for creating and operating one of the world's largest English-language internet crime forums — consisting of Nicholas Webber, Ryan Thomas, Shakira Ricardo, Samantha Worley, and Gary Kelly — has finally been sentenced for its rather significant involvement in the crime world:
Police estimate that losses from the thousands of credit details traded over the site, Gh0stMarket.net, amount to [about $26 million]. The web forum, which had 8,000 members worldwide, has been linked to hundreds of thousands of pounds of registered losses on 65,000 bank accounts.
Tracking down, arresting, and sentencing the group was not an easy task though.
Investigators caught on to the criminal activities after catching Nicholas Webber, the site's owner and founder, and the site's administrator, Ryan Thomas, attempting to pay for a $1,600 hotel bill using a stolen credit card in October of 2009:
After seizing Webber's laptop, police discovered details of 100,000 stolen credit cards and a trail back to the Gh0stMarket website. Webber and Thomas jumped bail that December, fleeing to Majorca, but were rearrested when they flew back to Gatwick airport on 31 January 2010.
At some point between the arrests, Webber apparently posted threats "to blow up the head of the police e-crimes unit" on the forum and "used his hacking skills to trace officers' addresses."
Officers kept working despite those threats and even managed to track down and arrest Gh0stMarket members Gary Kelly, Shakira Ricardo, and Samantha Worley. Those three were taken in under charges including conspiracy to commit fraud and acquiring criminal property.
Gh0stmarket.net appears to no longer be operating now that its owners are in jail, so we can breathe just a tiny bit easier.