One of the FBI’s most wanted criminals, known for conspiring to commit some of the largest known cyber attacks in the world, was arrested earlier last week after being captured at the John F. Kenndy airport in New York.
32-Year-Old, Joshua Aaron, pleaded not guilty to a Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday evening, after being charged with 16 criminal counts, including hacking, securities fraud and conspiracy. Aaron’s most serious charge could carry a sentencing of up to 20 years in federal prison.
Aaron was apprehended mid-afternoon Wednesday after arriving at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, following a flight landing from Moscow.
Aaron’s attorney, Ben Brafman, said his client waived extradition and is currently in the United States voluntarily. The American fugitives decision comes after denying asylum that Russia had previously offered him.
Aaron and two Israelis currently in custody, are accused of serious of hacking crimes, crimes which lead to more than 100 million customers information being stolen from companies. Those including JPMorgan Chase, then using inside information to manipulate stocks and commit other nefarious schemes that netted the hacking gang hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Joshua Samuel Aaron allegedly worked to hack into the networks of dozens of American companies, ultimately leading to the largest theft of personal information from U.S. financial institutions ever,” US Attorney Preet Bhara said in a statement.
“For pursuing what we have called ‘hacking as a business model,’ and thanks to the efforts of the FBI and the US Secret Service, Aaron will now join his co-defendants to face justice in a Manhattan federal courtroom.”
United States authorities issued a warrant for Aaron’s arrest back in July 2015, initially accusing him and his co-defendants of participating in an international hacking ring. Crimes included extracting private information from financial institutions, processing payments for fake pharmaceutical and fake anti-virus software, falsifying passports and even taking control of a New Jersey credit union.
The trio abused some 75 companies, banks and brokerage accounts all around the world to launder money, authorities claim. They payment processor alone netted the gang over $18 million.
Aside from JPMorgan, companies that suffered attacks in connection with Aaron’s group include Fidelity Investments, E-Trade, Scottrade, Dow Jones and a unit of News Corp.
Aaron’s co-defendants were extradited to the United States back in July 2016. Aaron, currently being held without bail, is scheduled to appear in front of a Manhattan courtroom again this coming Thursday.
What still remains unclear is who conducted the actual attacks. Court documents unsealed related to the breach link to an unidentified Russian-speaking hacker. It is possible that Aaron could have information or be tied to the unknown hacker related to the massive JPMorgan hacks.