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Not long ago, Grant West made the news after he pleaded guilty to selling hundreds of thousands of stolen credit card numbers, “fullz,” and logins for various internet services. A recent release of information by UK authorities placed West back under the spotlight for, among other things, the lavish lifestyle he had secretly been living.
West, 25, lived in Kent, England. From the outside, according to local news reports, his life may have seemed fairly normal. And if not normal, his life seemed drastically underwhelming when compared to the events that unfolded in the months prior to his arrest. West, as many have now learned, sold stolen information on Alphabay and Evolution. The majority of news outlets have primarily focused on the “hacker” element of his case. There is more to the story than hacking user accounts, though.
Last year, West pleaded guilty to stealing the information of 160,000 Just Eat customers. He admitted he had been selling the harvested information as “fullz” on the darknet. In the Just Eat case, West gathered customer data through “official” emails that tricked Just Eat customers into sending him their credit card information and other sensitive information. Just Eat was only one out of potentially hundreds of sites targeted by West, though, investigators learned.
He admitted hacking dozens of other sites too. He truly “hacked” very few sites though. The majority of the data West harvested came from the targeted company’s own customers. He sent convincing phishing emails to unsuspecting customers.
During his most recent hearing, the public heard how the police had seized more than $30,000 when they raided West’s residence. New information revealed that West had actually collected between $700,000 and $1.5 million in Bitcoin that the police failed to seize. Shortly after the arrest, someone moved the Bitcoin from wallets under West’s control. The police knew he had worked with his girlfriend; she pleaded guilty to letting West use her computer to carry out some of these hacks. But investigators now suspect that West may not have worked alone—excluding the girlfriend’s minor role in his operation. Investigators found that she had spent some of the stolen money on herself to purchase clothing but that amounted to almost nothing compared to her boyfriend’s spending.
Using money earned on Alphabay and any number of the 65,000 stolen credit cards the police found, West bought an Audi A5, travelled routinely, and spent “small fortunes” during trips to Las Vegas.
He will appear in court for scheduling later this month. However, with the ongoing investigation into his illegal activities, he will likely show up in court again in the near future.