Twenty-year-old Joshua Epiphaniou, who, on July 17, became the first Cypriot national to ever been extradited to the US, where he is facing hacking charges and up to 20 years in prison, will appear in court on Monday before US judge Alan J. Baverman in the Northern District of Georgia.
Epiphaniou, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, has been in jail in Cyprus for over two years following his arrest in February 2018 and is wanted in the states of Georgia and Arizona for cyber intrusion and extortion.
Cyprus amended its Constitution in 2013 to allow for the extradition of Cypriot nationals to a European country or to a third country on the basis of a European arrest warrant or on the basis of a bilateral or multilateral treaty that the republic has signed.
A five-count indictment filed in Georgia charges the 20-year-old with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit computer fraud. identity theft, and extortion.
According to the indictment, between October 2014 and November 2016, when he was aged between 14 and 16, Epiphaniou worked with associates to steal personal data from user and customer databases at victim websites in order to extort the websites into paying ransoms under threat of public disclosure.
He allegedly used proxy servers located in foreign countries to log into online email accounts and send messages to the victim’s websites threatening to leak the sensitive data unless a ransom was paid.
He is alleged to have defrauded the entities of $56,850 in bitcoin and two victims incurred losses of over $530,000 from remediation costs associated with the incident.
Along with Epiphaniou, a 37-year-old Lebanese national Ghassan Diab man was also extradited from Cyprus on July 17.
Diab is alleged to have laundered drug money for the Hezbollah’s global criminal-support network and will be trialled in Florida.
He was arrested on March 9 at Larnaca airport upon his arrival from Beirut, based on a request from the United States.
He faces two counts of conspiracy to launder over $100,000, two counts of unlicensed transmission of currency over $100,000, and two counts of unlawful use of a two-way communications device to further the commission of money laundering.
“These successful extraditions demonstrate the commitment of the Department of Justice to support local, state and federal law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and our strong working relationship with dedicated foreign partners who assist in apprehending foreign fugitives wherever they may be hiding,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Thanks to the efforts of our law enforcement partners in Cyprus, Ghassan Diab and Joshua Polloso Epifaniou will now be held accountable in the United States for their alleged crimes.”