Sydney Conman Accussed of Selling Personal Information on the Dark Web
A Sydney IT contractor who allegedly sold troves of stolen personal information,, credit cards on the dark web used “onion routers” and fake accounts set up in colleagues’ names to cover his tracks, prosecutors say.
Rozelle man Stephen Bruce Grant, 49, is accused of publicly posting the personal information of over 270,000 people which was held by Australia’s largest independent property valuation firm Landmark White.
He allegedly accessed the ASX-listed company’s risk rating tables from September 2017 and posted names, addresses, phone numbers and financial information on a number of internet sites until May 2019.
Crown prosecutor Nick Borosh told the court investigators had been able to directly link Grant, who has pleaded not guilty to 22 offences, to several of the uploads despite efforts to conceal the crimes.
In one instance, an upload of personal information was traced back to the free WiFi service available at Sydney airport.
Investigators were then able to identify the laptop that posted the documents belonged to Grant, who was flying from Sydney to Melbourne that day.
Uploads made days later while Grant was in Melbourne were traced back to the Novotel Hotel, where he was staying.
Many of the other uploads were purportedly made from all over the globe, from the Czech Republic and Luxemburg to Johannesburg in South Africa.
However, the Crown alleges it was really Grant making the uploads through “onion routers”, which bounce a signal through several servers to conceal the true source of a connection.
Another time documents were uploaded through a VPN service – which works in a similar way to an onion router – that Grant subscribed and paid fees to.
More discoveries point to Grant too, Mr Borosh alleges.
Accounts set up under fake names to make the uploads included references to colleagues’ names and nicknames.
Another time a post was made from the IP address – an internet connection “fingerprint” – belonging to Grant’s business.
Investigators also examined a server owned by his company and found references to the file names of some of the leaked documents.
Grant’s offending was aimed at deceptively gaining a benefit for himself, or deceptively causing a financial loss to Landmark White, Mr Borosh said.
Landmark White was forced to suspend trading on the stock market, lost clients and had to fire staff as a result of the breach.
While both parties agree offences were committed by someone, Mr Borosh said the jury will have to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that users could even upload documents to the sites and that Grant was the user who did so.
The trial continues in the District Court.
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