UK: Teenage computer hacker who downloaded indecent images and stole bank details avoids jail time

The Sussex Police report:

A Crawley man has been sentenced for on-line ‘hacking’ based frauds, and for offences relating to indecent images of children.

Aaron Coster, 18, unemployed, of Farnham Close, Broadfield, Crawley, was sentenced to a total of two years imprisonment suspended for two years when he appeared at Hove Crown Court on Friday (29 January), having pleaded guilty to nine offences at a hearing in November last year.

The nine offences were; three counts of unauthorised computer access, one of fraud by false representation, three of making an indecent image of a child, and one of possession of an extreme pornographic image.

He was also served with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) to last for ten years and subject then to further court decision, severely restricting his access to computers, and is also required to carry out 250 hours unpaid work.

The investigation began in 2013 when Sussex Police received intelligence that Coster had been downloading indecent images of children. His address was searched and computers were seized which were later found to contain 26 images of the most serious nature.

There was no evidence of any contact offending against children by Coster, whether in person or on-line, and none of the images are believed to be of local children.

However, separate enquiries also revealed that he acquired and used a remote access computer tool which is designed to control another computer.

Coster had hacked into the computers of more than 100 people in the UK, elsewhere in Europe, and the United States, allowing him to find their passwords, and account details, when he found that the users were on-line and had often left their passwords and addresses accessible.

He used this information to order for himself computer equipment and games,  some of which were still present when police searched his address.

These activities came to light when a UK resident spotted that his computer identity was being used to place orders, and reported him to the police.

Detective Constable David Hull of the Surrey and Sussex Cyber Crime Unit said; “This investigation initially focused on Coster’s acquisition of indecent images of children, but we then followed up information that led us to his hacking activities. All the offending appears to have been carried out for his own personal gratification rather than for financial gain.
“Although still living at home, Coster had become very skilled and adept in the use of computer technology. We hope that the sentencing will encourage him to put his skills to legitimate use to the benefit of law-abiding society.

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