…By Judah Olanisebee for TDPel Media.
Jailed Hacker Ordered to Pay £101,503 for Theft of Unreleased Songs
City of London Police have announced that a computer hacker, currently serving a jail sentence, has been instructed to repay £101,503.
Adrian Kwiatkowski, residing in Ipswich, was responsible for stealing two unreleased songs from Ed Sheeran and 12 songs from American rapper Lil Uzi Vert.
The hacker offered these tracks for sale on the dark web, accepting cryptocurrency as payment after gaining unauthorized access to the artists’ digital accounts.
Confiscation Order and Payment Deadline:
Following proceedings by the Police Intellectual Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police, a confiscation order has been granted against the defendant.
Kwiatkowski has been given three months to pay £101,053, which includes £51,975 held in his bank account and 2.64 BTC (Bitcoin) valued at £49,528.
Notably, this marks the first confiscation order of cryptocurrency secured by PIPCU.
Failure to meet the payment deadline will result in an additional 18 months of imprisonment.
The Hacker’s Criminal Activities and Conviction:
Kwiatkowski, aged 23, pleaded guilty to three charges of unauthorized access to computer material, 14 charges of selling copyrighted articles, one charge of converting criminal property, and two charges of possessing criminal property.
In October 2022, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail by Ipswich Crown Court.
During a search of his Apple Mac laptop, authorities discovered a total of 565 audio files, including the stolen songs by Lil Uzi Vert and Ed Sheeran.
Impact on Musicians and the Fight Against Intellectual Property Crime:
Detective Constable Daryl Fryatt from PIPCU emphasized the significant financial harm caused to musicians and their production companies by Kwiatkowski’s actions.
Not only did he cause financial losses, but he also deprived the artists of their ability to release their own work.
The successful confiscation order demonstrates the ongoing efforts of law enforcement to ensure that criminals do not benefit from proceeds generated through illegal activities.
International Collaboration and Investigation:
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office initiated an investigation in 2019 following reports from music management companies regarding an individual known online as “Spirdark.”
This individual gained unauthorized access to various accounts and sold the content stored within them.
City of London Police, in collaboration with the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), identified Kwiatkowski as the culprit.
They traced the email address used for Spirdark’s cryptocurrency account to Kwiatkowski and identified his home address as the IP address associated with the account hacking.
The case was subsequently referred to PIPCU for further investigation.
The Impact on the Music Industry:
Melissa Morgia, Director of Global Content Protection and Enforcement at IFPI, commended the progress made in this case.
She highlighted how such criminal activities undermine the efforts of artists and the teams supporting them in the creation and release of music.
The collaboration between the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and City of London Police serves as a strong example of international cooperation in combating intellectual property crime.
The ordered repayment of £101,503 from Adrian Kwiatkowski, the hacker responsible for stealing unreleased songs, showcases the commitment of law enforcement in protecting artists and their creative endeavors.
This case serves as a reminder that intellectual property theft not only harms artists financially but also disrupts the dedicated efforts of those involved in the music industry.
The successful outcome of this investigation demonstrates the importance of international collaboration in addressing such crimes and safeguarding the interests of artists worldwide.