Algeria's jailed Robin Hood hacker given long jail sentence

Algeria's jailed Robin Hood hacker given long jail sentence
An Algerian hacker who is said to have donated millions of dollars to Palestinian charities had been sentenced to 15 years in jail.
2 min read
22 Apr, 2016
Bendelladj reportedly gave millions to Palestinian charities [Getty]
An Algerian man accused of stealing millions of dollars from bank accounts before reportedly donating the proceeds to Palestinian charities has been sentenced to 15 years in jail by a US court.

Hamza Bendelladj - known online as "Bx1" - helped create a malware virus called "SpyEye", which was said to have extracted at least $100 million from private accounts and financial institutions across the world.

Bendelladj pleaded guilty to all 23 counts of wire and bank fraud, while his accomplice Aleksandr Andreevich Panin was given a nine-and-half-years jail term.

Bendelladj was seen as a legend within hacking circles. His many fans also viewed him as a Robin Hood figure for making generous donations to the Palestinian cause.

"Until [being] dismantled by the FBI, SpyEye was the preeminent malware banking Trojan from 2010-2012, used by a global syndicate of cybercriminals to infect over 50 million computers, causing close to $1 billion in financial harm to individuals and financial institutions around the globe," the United States justice department said in a statement.

The SpyEye malware was sold online to anyone willing to pay for it. The most sophisticated version cost around $10,000 and could steal sensitive data or let hackers use infected machines to send spam.

The 27-year-old was arrested in Thailand in 2013, where he was photographed being detained by security forces but still smiling. He was later extradited to the US.

Many of the "smiling hackers" fans in the Middle East have rallied on social media calling for his release, using the Arabic-language hashtag #WeAreAllHamzaBendelladj.

Translation: "Forgive us Mrs. Bendelladj, you won't see your son for 15 years because of us [Palestinians]. Your son is a hero and an honour to all Algerians."

Translation: "Hamza is the epitome of kindness and generosity. His story reminds me so much of Robin Hood. May God keep him safe."

Translation: "What can I say to all the Algerians out there. I am at a loss of words."