Teens behind $26M crime forum Gh0stMarket.net go to jail

Internet-crime-website-nicholas-webber-Gh0stMarketCrime just doesn’t pay. Or, rather, it pays a lot. But then the cops take all your money, which is kind the same thing.

This lesson was learned the hard way by three British teenagers who owned and operated Gh0stMarket.net, the world’s largest English-language online forum for criminals, the Guardian reports. The sketchy trio has been sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Prior to its shutdown, Gh0stMarket boasted 8,000 members worldwide. The site was described in court hearings as “Crimebook,” where criminals socialized and, most importantly, swapped illicit information, such as stolen credit card numbers, the private details of around 65,000 bank accounts and instructions for how to make crystal meth and explosives. Gh0stMarket is said to have resulted in the loss of around $26 million.

The owner and founder of Gh0stMarket, 18-year-old Nicholas Webber, and the site’s 17-year-old administrator, Ryan Thomas, were both initially arrested in October 2009, after the pair tried to pay a $1,600 hotel bill with a stolen credit card number. After posting bail, the two then fled to Majorca, but were re-arrested when they returned to England at the end of January 2010.

In what was probably one of the dumbest moves in a series of dumb moves, Webber threatened to blow up the head of the police’s Internet crimes division, following his initial arrest.

The third person arrested, now-21-year-old Gary Kelly, helped design hacking software used to steal people’s personal data. This software was one of the many unlawful items available on Gh0stMarket, and reportedly earned Kelly around $70,000.

A number of Gh0stMarket users were also found guilty of crimes. Weber was sentenced to five years in jail; Thomas received a four-year sentence. And Kelly also received five years.