On November 21, 2017, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Behzad Mesri for his involvement in a fraudulent scheme to obtain unauthorized access to the computer systems of Home Box Office, Inc. (“HBO”) to steal proprietary information and to obtain $6 million worth of Bitcoin from HBO through extortion.  According to the government, Mesri is an Iran-based computer hacker who, at certain times, has been a member of an Iran-based hacking group called the Turk Black Hat security team.  It is alleged that, from approximately May 2017 to July 2017, Mesri successfully infiltrated multiple HBO employees’ personal accounts and used these accounts to obtain access to HBO’s computer servers.  It is further alleged that Mesri stole confidential and proprietary information from HBO, including confidential video files containing unaired episodes of HBO television programs as well as scripts and plot summaries for unaired programming.  Finally, the government claims that Mesri engaged in a scheme to extort HBO by sending emails to multiple HBO executives and employees threatening to release the data publicly unless HBO paid a ransom of $6 million worth of Bitcoin and that Mesri caused portions of the stolen data to be publicly leaked over the Internet.  Although not yet arrested, Mesri stands charged with one count of computer hacking, three counts of threatening to impair the confidentiality of information, one count of aggravated identity theft, and one count of interstate transmission of an extortionate communication.  U.S. v. Mesri, 17-cr-620 (S.D.N.Y.)

DOJ Press Release