8th Dec, 2016

Solihull man convicted after hacking Home Office and FBI websites

Solihull Editorial 19th Oct, 2015 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016

A SOLIHULL man who hacked into the Home Office and FBI websites to launch a cyber attack has escaped jail.

Charlton George Ripley Floate was handed an eight month suspended sentence for 18 months along with a serious organised crime prevention order, restricting his access to internet and computer activity, after appearing at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (October 16). He was also ordered to complete 250 hours unpaid of work.

Floate, who was arrested on September 12, 2014, pleaded guilty to the distributed denial of service attacks and admitted two counts of possessing 111 prohibited images of children.

Searches also found he had software which allowed him to take control of other people’s computers. He used these means to record a video of a man performing a sex act, without his knowledge, before he later posted it to YouTube in an attempt to humiliate his victim.

Floate first came to the attention of police following the cyber attack on the Home Office website,  which led to the site being unavailable to members of the public for almost an hour and a half.

An investigation was launched by detectives from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit’s Cyber Crime team.

They quickly found a Twitter account taking credit for the denial of service attack, subsequent investigations then led them to Floate.

The offence was found to be part of a larger campaign orchestrated by Floate to target government websites at home and abroad, including the FBI.

Detectives found he used an online alias ThisIsGame0ver and planned the attacks with others in online chat rooms.

During interviews he refused to comment on any of the allegations but later admitted the offences at a hearing in August.

He was convicted for conspiracy to commit an offence contrary to section 3 of the computer misuse act 1990 as well as for one count of an unauthorised act with intent to impair the operation of a computer and a charge for unauthorised access to computer material.

Det Sgt Nigel Collins, from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit, said the sentence was the result of a long and extensive investigation into Floate and his illegal activities online.

He added they had worked closely with partner agencies in this country and abroad throughout the investigation and were pleased this outcome.

“One thing I want to stress is Floate is no computer genius – we found evidence he used online guides to carry out this work and when it became too difficult for him he paid other people to do it for him,” Det Sgt Collins said.

“He gained access to other people’s computer’s with little effort and had complete disregard for their privacy – accessing webcams so he could watch them while they were online.

“This case stresses the importance of keeping your personal computers and devices up to date with security software and running regular checks to ensure your systems have not been compromised.”