Alleged Syrian hacker is extradited to the US on extortion charges

Peter Romar was recently arrested in Germany

A hacker with alleged connections to members of the  Syrian Electronic Army appeared in a Virginia court Tuesday to face charges of participating in an extortion scheme that threatened victims to delete or sell data from compromised computers.  

Peter Romar, who was detained by German authorities on a provisional arrest warrant on behalf of the U.S., had been earlier charged by a criminal complaint unsealed on March 22. The Syrian national, also known as Pierre Romar, was residing in Waltershausen in Germany.

He is alleged to have worked with Firas Dardar from Homs, Syria, on the extortion scheme.

Dardar and Ahmad Umar Agha, a resident of Damascus, are separately charged with targeting the U.S. government, Harvard University, Human Rights Watch and various media outlets, which were seen to be detractors of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the Department of Justice.

Both Agha and Dardar are believed to be in Syria. The FBI said in March it was adding Agha and Dardar to its Cyber Most Wanted list and offering a reward of US$100,000 for information that leads to their arrest. 

In 2012, for example, SEA hacked the Twitter account of the Reuters news agency and started sending tweets with false information on the Syrian conflict. The agency’s news website was also hacked and a false report was posted to a reporter’s blog.

The government was able to track down the ring by using court warrants to get access to the Facebook and Gmail communications of the group.

Dardar started using his computer hacking skills and notoriety as a SEA hacker for personal monetary gain through computer intrusion and extortion schemes that used phishing emails, according to a filing in September last year in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Some 14 victims of the extortion scheme were detected in the U.S. and abroad between July 2013 and December 2014.

In at least one instance, Dardar attempted to use his affiliation with the SEA to scare his victim, according to the DOJ.

While Dadar conducted computer intrusions from Syria and sent threats and payment demands to victims, Romar, from his location in Germany, received and attempted to retransmit the extortion proceeds to SEA members in Syria, in violation of U.S. sanctions against Syria, according to DOJ. Romar was aware that he was receiving extortion funds from hacking activities and was assisting in evading the U.S. sanctions, according to court records.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?