A Sydney teenager admitted to using information from the Optus data breach to blackmail nearly 100 customers in an attempt to make “quick money”.
Dennis Su, 19, appeared in Sydney Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday to plead guilty to two counts of using equipment connected to a network to commit a serious offence.
The Rockdale resident used his iPhone XS to access the personal information of 100 customers impacted by the Optus data breach which had been shared online.
He then sent text messages to 93 Optus customers, to whom he pretended to be the person responsible for the cyber attack, the court documents reveal.
Between September 24 and October 6, Su threatened to use the customers’ personal information for “fraudulent activity” if they refused to pay $2000 into his bank account.
None of the hacked Optus customers paid the blackmail fee.
The court documents show he even sent follow up texts to a number of the victims, one of whom reported him to the police.
The charges were laid by police after they identified that the bank account linked to the scam belonged to the teen’s younger brother.
When the account was suspended by the bank, the Rockdale resident visited his local branch in person to see if it could be unlocked.
The teen told officers he had blackmailed the victims because he saw a chance to make “quick money”. The court documents reveal he turned to the text scam when he was having a hard time being unemployed.
Australian Federal Police officers seized a phone used to blackmail the hacked Optus customers when they arrested Su at his south Sydney home on October 6.
Anonymous hackers targeted Optus in late September in a shattering data breach that stole personal information from thousands of customers.
Although Su is not accused of being involved in the hack, he tried to financially benefit from the illegally obtained data.
“This is a serious example of this type of offending,” magistrate Susan Horan told the court.
The court was told the maximum penalty for the two charges was 10 years imprisonment if convicted.
Given the severity of Su’s crimes, Ms Horan ordered a sentencing assessment report.
The court was told the report would be tendered to the court in addition to a medical report, two reports from a counsellor, five character references, and a letter of apology from the teen.
Su will return to Sydney Downing Centre Local Court on February 7 to learn his fate.
Two previous charges of dealing with identity information to commit an indictable offence and demand with menace intending to obtain gain were withdrawn, the court heard.
He will remain on bail over the holiday period until his next court appearance.