Hacker accused of stealing millions extradited to Atlanta

by: Mark Winne Updated:

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ATLANTA —

Prosecutors told Channel 2 Action News a hacker mastermind is in Atlanta to face justice for stealing millions of dollars and infecting millions of computers.

Investigators captured the suspect in Thailand and brought him to Atlanta, where they say a local server controlled the hacked computers.

"Folks are having their information stolen secretly. They don't even know it until they look at their bank account and their money's gone," U.S. Attorney Sally Yates told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne.

Winne obtained YouTube video of Hamza Bendelladj in court in Thailand. Yates said the suspect mastermind never set foot on U.S. soil while developing and marketing a virus called Spyeeye that was used to help steal money from banks and individuals.

"We're talking millions of dollars and millions of people whose bank accounts have been impacted," Yates said.

Extradited from Thailand after an indictment, Bendelladj is in Atlanta facing a variety of fraud charges. A representative for Bendelladj told Winner he would plead not guilty to the charges.

"The virus allows the cybercriminal to actually go in and control the individual's computer and when they are controlling that computer they then get access to their bank account information," Yates said.

Yates said the victims are spread around the world, including Atlanta. Authorities are also looking for another suspect.

"We won't identify who he is until he's in custody," Yates told Winne.

A server allegedly used for command and control of computers infected by Spyeye was located in Atlanta.

Yates said the FBI used new weapons in its arsenal to take down Bendalladj, cybertools so sophisticated she won't detail what they are.

"If the allegations are true, (is this) one of the biggest cybercrime targets ever taken down?" Winne asked Yates.

"Yeah, and its one of the most sophisticated schemes as well. There are lot of hackers out there, but these guys were good," Yates said.

The U.S. Attorney's office said Bendelladj's role was to help develop Spyeye and then he sold it to people who used it.

The indictment seems to indicate the other suspect was principal author of Spyeye, but Bendelladj developed components.