Two young men, Sagar Steven Singh (20) aka Weep and Nicholas Ceraolo (26) aka Ominous and Convict hailing from New York and Rhode Island have pleaded guilty to charges of computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft for hacking a federal law enforcement agency’s web portal.

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ) press release, Singh and Ceraolo used stolen credentials to gain unauthorized access to the sensitive portal, potentially compromising a wealth of confidential data. They were charged in March 2023.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) El Dorado Task Force, the National Security and Cybercrime Section of the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the FBI, and the New York Police Department collaborated in this case’s investigation.

The duo was part of a cyber crime group called Vile featuring an appalling logo of a hanged girl. The group harvested personal information, posted it on a public website, and asked victims to pay the hackers to have their information removed. 

ViLe Cybercrime Group Members Plead Guilty to Hacking DEA Portal

It is worth mentioning that, at the time of writing, the website was still online. However, the image of a hanged girl had been replaced with a video of the song La rose des vents by France Gall.

As per Brain Krebs’ report from March 2023, the targeted agency was the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which provided access to 16 different law enforcement databases in the United States.

According to prosecutors, Singh and Ceraolo used a law enforcement official’s stolen password to access a nonpublic, password-protected online portal maintained by a U.S. federal law enforcement agency. The portal provided access to government databases, including records of narcotics, intelligence reports, and currency seizures.

Singh threatened to harm the victim’s family unless they provided him with their Instagram accounts. This tactic, known as “doxxing,” can have devastating consequences for individuals, leading to humiliation, harassment, and even physical harm.

Singh and Ceraolo were aware of the illegality of accessing the portal and the information it could provide. Both men face a sentencing range of two to seven years in prison.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Peace, condemned the duo’s actions, highlighting the severity of the crime.

“The defendants called themselves ‘ViLe,’ and their actions were exactly that,” Peace said. 

HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo said that the defendants and co-conspirators exploited government database vulnerabilities for personal gain. The guilty pleas send a strong message to those seeking illicit access to protected computer systems.

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