Teenager 'was mastermind of 10m hacking network'

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The Independent Online

New Zealand police have questioned a teenager believed to be the mastermind of an international computer hacking network that infiltrated more than a million computers worldwide and stole millions of dollars from victims' bank accounts.

The 18-year-old has not been named because he was under 18 at the time of the alleged offences, but his cyber name was "Akill". His home in Hamilton, on the North Island, was raided by police, who seized several computers and took him into custody. He was released without charge, but remains under investigation.

New Zealand police had been working with the FBI and police in the Netherlands on a case that led to eight people being charged, convicted or pleading guilty since the inquiry began in June. Thirteen further warrants have been served in the US and elsewhere.

The teenager allegedly wrote software that enabled hackers to assume control of computers and marshal them into clusters. They were able to steal credit card information, manipulate trading of stocks, and crash computers.

The FBI estimates the ring infiltrated 1.3 million computers, causing losses and damage of more than $20m (9.7m).

Martin Kleintjes, head of New Zealand police's electronic crime centre, told National Radio that "Akill" was now co-operating with investigators, and explaining how the system worked. "He is very bright and very skilled in what he's doing," Mr Kleintjes said.

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