2 Malaysians face 23 charges in US over China hacking probe

The US authorities expect the two Malaysians to fight extradition to the US to face justice.

WASHINGTON: Two Malaysian businessmen implicated by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in a hacking scandal are facing 23 charges, including identity theft and money laundering.

According to a statement from the DoJ, Wong Ong Hua, 46, and Ling Yang Ching, 32, were also charged with racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, aggravated identity theft, access device fraud, violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), and falsely registering domain names.

The US is seeking to extradite the duo.

The offences carry sentences between five to 20 years in prison. If found guilty for false registration of domain names, their maximum prison sentences may be increased by up to seven years.

The DoJ said the pair allegedly conspired with various hackers, including two from China, to profit from criminal computer intrusions of video game companies.

It alleged they operated through a Malaysian firm called SEA Gamer Mall, founded by Wong, through a pattern of activities involving computer intrusion offenses targetted at video game companies in the US, France, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

US Assistant Attorney-General for National Security John Demers said yesterday that the Malaysian defendants were in custody but were likely to fight extradition. However, the statement did not say under whose custody they duo are being held.

The DoJ said it had obtained search warrants this month resulting in the seizure of hundreds of accounts, servers, domain names and “dead drop” web pages used by the alleged hackers to siphon data from their victims.

It said Microsoft Corp had developed measures to block the hackers and that the company’s actions “were a significant part” of the overall US effort to neutralise them.