British 'Dark Overlord' hacker jailed for five years in the US

Nathan Wyatt is the only member of the prolific hacking group to be identified

A man in a hoodie sitting in front of a computer with hacking software running on it

A British man has been sentenced to five years in prison for stealing information from several US companies as part of The Dark Overlord hacking group. 

Nathan Francis Wyatt, a 39-year-old from Northamptonshire, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit aggravated identity theft and computer fraud in a federal court in St Louis.

Wyatt, the only member of the group to have been identified, set up a phone account and Twitter and PayPal profiles that were used to communicate and receive money. He was ordered to pay about $1.5 million in restitution fees.

The Dark Overlord stole medical records, client files and personal information from companies, then demanded between $75,000 and $300,000 worth of Bitcoin to return the information, according to federal prosecutor Laura Kathleen Bernstein. 

The group has been linked to a spate of attacks in both the US and UK and often threaten to release stolen data on the dark web if their demands are not paid. 

Wyatt's actions helped the other hackers remain anonymous, according to Bernstein, and his phone account was used to send threatening text messages to relatives of victims. Although none of the victims paid the ransom, they did lose money due to the intrusion and subsequent release of stolen data. 

During his Zoom hearing, Wyatt apologised and said that his mental health problems were the reason for his bad decisions, according to The St.Louis Post-Dispatch

"I can promise you that I'm out of that world," he said. "I don't want to see another computer for the rest of my life."

In an unrelated case, Wyatt was arrested in 2016 by police investigating the hacking of an iCloud account that belonged to Pippa Matthews - the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge. Wyatt was released with no further action in September 2017. He has, however, served 14 months in a British prison for hacking and fraud offences.

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