Amit Vikram Tiwari, an engineering dropout and global hacker, is in the CBI net.
He is part of a global network of hackers and was arrested on Friday from Pune following a tip-off from the FBI. Tiwari was flown to New Delhi in the evening.
This is for the first time that a global network of cyber hackers has been traced to India. Investigating agencies of China, Romania and the United States collaborated with the CBI to pounce upon the 32-year-old professional hacker who, a source said, had compromised more than 1,000 internet accounts around the world.
The CBI claims that Tiwari’s hacking syndicate has been active in India since 2011, and that he has confessed to hacking 950 foreign email accounts besides 171 in India. Son of an Indian Army colonel, Tiwari was arrested from his house in Pune and taken to New Delhi on a transit-remand for further questioning.
The CBI tracked down Tiwari after the FBI passed on information on the global network of cyber hackers. Simultaneous raids were conducted in Mumbai and Ghaziabad.
This is not the first time Tiwari has been arrested. In 2003, he was arrested by the Mumbai police for defrauding a Mumbai-based credit card processing company of nearly Rs9 lakh when he was only 21 and pursuing a degree in engineering in Pune. At that time, he was operating a website designing services start-up www.mafiaz.com. During investigation, police found several fictitious names of clients and bank account numbers in his computer.
“Though he has claimed to have hacked into the email accounts of over 900 people globally, the kind of clientele whom he was serving is still to be established. From identify theft to corporate rivalry, he was serving all types of clients,” a CBI officer said. But he hacked only email accounts and not bank accounts.
CBI claimed that he was operating through two websites — www.hirehacker.net and www.anonymity.com — and was charging between $250-500 for his service. He was paid via Western Union money transfer and Paypal. He used to send the money to his father and girlfriend.
“As part of an international law enforcement operation, the CBI has registered two cases against suspected operators of hacking websites. Similar operations are being conducted in Romania, China and the US. It is suspected that the number of email accounts hacked may be much larger once the data is collected and the accused are interrogated,” a CBI officer said.
Tiwari’s clientele included jilted lovers and corporate entities. After registering the cases, the CBI carried out searches in two locations in Mumbai and one each in Pune and Ghaziabad for violations of various sections of the IT Act and section 379 of the IPC.
Another CBI officer said: “Tiwari lives with his girlfriend, who is an aspirant model in the city. He leads a luxurious lifestyle and often change his homes. He is an expert in hacking bank details and skimming.”
Who is Amit Tiwari?
An engineering dropout from Pune and a global hacker, he is the son of an Indian Army colonel. The Mumbai police arrested him in 2003 for defrauding a Mumbai-based credit card processing company of nearly Rs9 lakh.
What is hacking?
Hacking is explained in section 43 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. It includes unauthorised access, download, introducing virus, disrupting or damaging computers of others.
Sections applicable in hacking
Hacking is punishable under section 66 read with section 43 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
The person can be punished with up to three years imprisonment or fine up to Rs5 lakh or both.
Who is his clientele?
From jilted lovers to corporate entities, he catered to everyone willing to pay his fees ($250-500). He operated through two websites — www.hirehacker.net and www.anonymity.com. He is accused of hacking into the email accounts of more than 900 people globally. He used to be paid via Western Union money transfer and Paypal.
His modus operandi
Customers who wanted unauthorised access to email accounts used to submit particulars of those accounts on the websites run by Tiwari. Upon receipt of the order as well as the email addresses, the website operators used to gain access to such email accounts and send a proof of such access to the customers. On receiving payment from customers, these website operators shared the password with them, according to the CBI.