Federal investigators have charged two suspected computer hackers for allegedly operating cyber-attack-for-hire websites that launched attacks on companies and individuals in Illinois and beyond.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois announced Wednesday that Zachary Buchta, 19, of Fallston, Maryland, and Bradley Jan Willem Van Rooy, 19, of Leiden, the Netherlands, were charged with conspiring to cause damage to protected computers. According to a criminal complaint, Buchta and van Rooy plotted with others to launch cyber attacks around the world and trafficked web-based payment accounts that had been lifted from victims in Illinois and elsewhere.

The charges stem from a larger international investigation into the computer hacking groups Lizard Squad and PoodleCorp. Federal investigators had come across the groups while tracking a separate internet spoofing scheme.

According to the complaint, Buchta, van Rooy and other members of Lizard Squad initiated denial-of-service attacks and bragged about them on social media. The hacks targeted gaming, entertainment and media companies and relied on a massive network of compromised computers and devices, the complaint says.

Along with other members of Lizard Squad, Buchta and van Rooy also operated websites that provided cyber-attack-for-hire services that resulted in thousands of denial-of-service attacks and stolen payment card account information from thousands of victims, the complaint alleges.

Buchta was arrested last month in Maryland and yesterday made an initial appearance in federal court in Chicago. Authorities in the Netherlands arrested van Rooy last month and he remains in custody there.


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