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Hacker Eric Croker has been charged with helping to illegally gain access to more than 77,000 computers through an online hacking forum, Darkode.

Crocker, 39, of New York, who pleaded guilty on Monday in a U.S. District Court, was among 12 people charged in July when the hacker forum known as “The best malware marketplace on the net” was taken down by a US-European sting operation involving over 20 countries.


During the raid, Darkode was one of approximately 800 underground web forums dismantled but it apparently resurfaced only a few weeks later with new security features to better patrol the site of law enforcement, researchers and journalists masquerading as legitimate users.

Known to other Darkode users as “Phastman,” Crocker acknowledged selling access to a botnet he and others built of compromised Facebook accounts. His customers then used the access to send high volumes of spam.

According to Jeremy Kirk of PC world, this is how the scam worked:

“A computer became infected if a user clicked on a link in a Facebook message sent by one of their friends who had been previously infected. Their computer would be infected with Slenfbot or Dolbot, a malware program that would then download another harmful program called the Facebook Spreader.

That code would access the victim’s Facebook contacts and send out more messages with malicious links.”

Crocker, amongst others, would then sell access to affected computers to individuals looking to send out profit-making messages. They were paid between $200 and $300 for every 10,000 active computer infections.

According to the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Crocker will be sentenced on November 23, and is facing up to three years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.

This is another positive story as Law enforcement continue to up their game in the fight against cybercrime. Recently, 32 people have been charged by the SEC for one of the largest computer hacking and security fraud schemes in history. It is believed they stole 150,000 confidential press releases prior to their public release.