US indicts Romanian man alleged to be celebrity hacker 'Guccifer'

Marcel Lehel Lazar is accused of accessing online accounts of at least five prominent people

A Romanian man sentenced just last week in his own country for raiding online accounts linked to prominent politicians and celebrities was indicted Thursday in a U.S. federal court.

Marcel Lehel Lazar, a taxi driver from Arad, Romania, is charged with wire fraud, unauthorized access of a protected computer, aggravated identity theft, cyberstalking and obstruction of justice, according to the indictment, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Lazar was sentenced last week to a minimum of four years in prison in Romania for a high-profile hacking spree that ran from 2009 to 2013. His targets in Romania included the head of its secret service, George Maior.

Lazar, operating under the nickname "Guccifer," is alleged to have trolled Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook and AOL accounts belonging to politicians and celebrities.

The U.S. indictment does not describe how Lazar allegedly obtained access to the accounts, but accounts with weak passwords are often vulnerable to simple attacks that try different ones.

The indictment also does not name the five victims it references. But one of Guccifer's most notable scores is said to involve compromising an email account of an acquaintance of the Bush family.

Emails said to involve former U.S. President George H.W. Bush were published, including photographs of paintings by his son and former president, George W. Bush.

Lazar also allegedly compromised former Secretary of State Colin Powell's Facebook page and email accounts of entertainers Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman and Steve Martin. He is also accused of impersonating one of his victims after compromising an account.

It wasn't clear from the DOJ's press release if the U.S. plans to file imminently an extradition request with Romania or wait until Lazar serves his sentence in Romania.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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Tags cybercrimelegalU.S. Department of JusticeCriminalIdentity fraud / theft

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Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
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