A 23-year-old man from Ipswich, in the eastern English county of Suffolk, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for hacking a number of high profile musicians and selling stolen files on the dark web.
Kwiatkowski illegally gained access to the musicians’ cloud-based storage accounts and then sold the unreleased music he stole on the dark web in exchange for cryptocurrency, making an estimated £131,000 according to a City of London Police investigation.
“Kwiatkowski had complete disregard for the musicians’ creativity and hard work producing original songs and the subsequent loss of earnings,’’ said Joanne Jakymec of the Crown Prosecution Service, reports the Associated Press. “He selfishly stole their music to make money for himself.”
Kwiatkowski was arrested by the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit in September 2019 and subsequently charged with 19 criminal offences, including 14 counts of selling copyrighted material.
He pleaded guilty to the charges in August this year and was sentenced on Friday, October 21, to 18 months in prison.
Kwiatkowski was tracked down and caught after a representative of Frank Ocean lodged a complaint with the New York District Attorney’s office in 2019, claiming a person going by the moniker “Spirdark” online had accessed Ocean’s Dropbox account and stolen unreleased music contained within it.
The email linked to the cryptocurrency account used by Spirdark was traced to Kwiatkowski, and a police raid on his home led to the seizure of a hard drive which contained 1,236 unreleased tracks by more than 80 artists, reports NME.
“Cybercrime knows no borders, and this individual executed a complex scheme to steal unreleased music in order to line his own pockets,’’ Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L Bragg Jr said, reports Complex. “New York and London are cultural capitals of the world, and through our enduring partnership with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and law enforcement organizations around the world, we have sent a clear message that we have the ability and tools to stop this type of criminal activity and protect victims.”
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Editor & Digital Director, follow him on Twitter