SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — An alleged digital hacker has been arraigned on charges stemming from a scheme to hijack a cryptocurrency exchange and drain at least $1.4 million from its accounts.

United States Attorney David L. Anderson said Anthony Tyler Nashatka who used the online handle ‘Psycho’ was charged in a San Francisco federal courtroom Thursday with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and other charges.

Nashatka was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley and was released on bond pending further proceedings.

If convicted of all charges, Nashatka faces nearly 60 years in federal prison and fines and restitution exceeding $2 million.

A federal grand jury indicted Nashatka, a current resident of Michigan, along with his co-conspirator, United Kingdom resident Elliott Gunton also known as “planet,” or “Glubz,” on August 13, 2019.

According to the indictment, Nashatka conspired in December of 2017 to target a cryptocurrency exchange platform to obtain the private keys and other information of hundreds of its users as part of a scheme to steal the users’ cryptocurrency.

The indictment reveals how the defendants unlawfully used the identity of a victim to gain access to the platform’s domain name settings, caused the transmission of a command to disable all of the cryptocurrency company’s servers, diverted users from the actual platform to a fake website and fraudulently induced victims to input their cryptocurrency addresses and private keys into the fake website.

The indictment alleges that between December 20 and 21, 2017, Nashatka and his co-conspirators logged the credentials of hundreds of victims, stole their cryptocurrency, and transferred approximately $600,000 in cryptocurrency to one cryptocurrency address controlled by them.

In addition, using this fraud scheme Nashatka and his co-conspirators stole and additional $800,000 from a single victim on December 26, 2017. The investigation to identify additional victims was continuing.

Nashatka was arrested in New York on September 6. His next court appearance is scheduled for November 13, 2019, before the Honorable Edward M. Chen, U.S. District Judge for a status conference.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendant faces the following maximum statutory sentences:

CHARGE

MAXIMUM PENALTY
Conspiracy to Commit Computer Fraud and Abuse 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the scheme
Transmission of a Program, Information, Code, and Command to Cause Damage to a Protected Computer 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the scheme
Unauthorized Access to a Protected Computer To Obtain Value 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the scheme
Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the scheme
Aggravated Identity Theft 2 years in prison (to run consecutive to any other term imposed) and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the scheme

The court also may order additional periods of supervised release, fines, and restitution, if appropriate, for each violation. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

This case is being prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions Section of the United States Attorney’s Office. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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