India's hacking whiz nabbed in FBI-coordinated clampdown

NEW DELHI - Amit Vikram Tiwari, an engineering dropout-turned-hacking whiz, has been nabbed by India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) following tip-offs from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), local media reported on Saturday.

The 31-year-old, whose clients ranged from aggressive companies to jealous lovers on the hunt for trade secrets and signs of infidelity, had allegedly compromised more than 1,000 accounts from around the world, including those in connection with the United States government and major corporates, The Times of India reported.

According to the report, he had also received hacking requests from those associated with the controversial Indian Premier League (IPL), although he did not complete the task for the cricket league due to disputes over payment.

His arrest was made as part of a coordinated clampdown on what was described by The Times of India as possibly the biggest global network of professional hackers today.

This is the first time such a network was traced to India, said India's DNA newspaper.

The US FBI, after having traced the hackers' hosting sites to India, China and Romania, initiated the collaboration, the report said.

"The operation is product of an international investigation coordinated by Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Combating Organised Crime (DCCO) of Romania, CBI and the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) of China and raids in three countries were carried out simultaneously," CBI Director Ranjit Sinha was quoted as saying in the report.

Tiwari, the son of a former army colonel, was arrested from his home in Pune in the western state of Maharashtra after the CBI conducted simultaneous raids in Mumbai, Pune and Ghaziabad. He has been flown to New Delhi for further questioning.

"From identify theft to corporate rivalry, he was serving all types of clients," an unnamed CBI officer was quoted as saying by DNA.

Tiwari had allegedly been operating through two websites - www.hirehacker.net and www.anonymity.com - and was charging between US$250 (S$320) and US$500 for his service.

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