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Israeli Man Who Made $5M From Hacking Scheme Sentenced to Prison in US

Aviram Azari, an Israeli man who made nearly $5 million from a hacking scheme, has been sentenced to 80 months in prison in the US.

An Israeli private investigator who made nearly $5 million by hacking companies and individuals has been sentenced to 80 months in prison in the United States, the Justice Department announced on Thursday. 

Authorities said the man, 52-year-old Aviram Azari, was arrested on computer hacking, wire fraud and identity theft charges when he traveled to the United States in September 2019. 

According to the Justice Department, Azari owned and operated an Israel-based ‘intelligence firm’ named Aviram Hawk or Aviram Netz. 

Between 2014 and 2019, the company was hired by various clients to obtain intelligence on specified targets. Azari obtained the intelligence by hiring different hacking groups, including one located in India, to access online accounts and steal information, often by leveraging spear-phishing emails.

Targets included hedge funds, tech companies, journalists, and climate change activists. Investigators identified roughly 300 targets, including 100 for which successful hacking was confirmed. 

However, it’s believed that thousands of entities from around the world have been targeted as part of the scheme. 

“Some of the hacked documents that were stolen from various of the victims’ online accounts were leaked to the press, resulting in articles relating to the New York and Massachusetts Attorneys Generals’ investigations into Exxon Mobil Corporation’s knowledge about climate change and potential misstatements made by Exxon regarding what it knew about the risks of climate change,” the Justice Department said. 

In addition to the prison sentence, Azari will have to serve three years of supervised release and forfeit the $4.84 million that he made through the scheme. 

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The Justice Department noted, “Victims have described the persistent and relentless targeting of them and their associates, as well as the theft of their identities and personal data, as ‘psychological assault’ that has caused them ‘anxiety, paranoia, depression, sleeplessness, and fear,’ and the victims have expressed continued concerns for their personal safety.”

Related: US Announces IPStorm Botnet Takedown and Its Creator’s Guilty Plea

Related: Administrator of Darkode Hacking Forum Sentenced to Prison

Related: Russian Man Who Laundered Money for Ryuk Ransomware Gang Sentenced

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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