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Feds arrest Tennessee man in hacking case; will try him in Chicago

Updated: July 18, 2014 6:25AM



A hacker who targeted big businesses — including Comcast and Canadian Bell — as well as schools, including the University of Virginia, will face justice in a Chicago courtroom, the feds say.

Timothy French, 20, was arrested by the FBI in his hometown of Morristown, Tenn., last week. He’s accused of being a key member of the hacker collective “NullCrew.”

Like “Anonymous” and “LulzSec” — hacker groups previously targeted by the feds — NullCrew attempts to publicly embarrass targets for political reasons but does not seem to be motivated by money.

It boasts of wanting to “f--- the system” and in 2012 claimed credit for hacking the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense.

Though French is not charged with that attack, he is accused of conspiring with others to take 12,000 customer usernames and passwords from Canadian Bell and post them online.

NullCrew boasted about that hack, attacks on Comcast’s mail servers and the University of Virginia and other data breaches on a Twitter account it controls, according to a federal complaint unsealed last week.

Charged with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, French allegedly used the online handles “Orbit,” “@Orbit,” “@Orbit_g1rl,” “crysis,” “rootcrysis,” and “c0rps3.”

He allegedly admitted he was “c0rps3” to the FBI, which also linked an anonymous webchat he had about a bad car wreck in his Camaro to police records of the accident.

In a webchat with an FBI informant, he allegedly reveled in one hack, writing “LOL. Gained ALOTTTTTTT of attention. I’ve done like four interviews.”

His arrest is a cybercrime coup for U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon, who has appointed up-and-coming young Assistant U.S. Attorney William Ridgeway as a deputy section chief in charge of targeting Internet crime.

Last month the world’s largest online drug dealer, 23-year-old Dutchman Cornelius Jan Slomp — known as “SuperTrips” — pleaded guilty in Chicago.

If convicted, French faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Email: kjanssen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @kimjnews



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