A Singaporean man, Matthew Ho, has been arrested for stealing Riot Games founder’s identity to use as a cover for a computing power theft that amounted up to $5 million.
Ho was first indicted by the US Department of Justice in October for stealing computing power from Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. The power volume consumed was so much that, according to the investigators, Ho was, at a point, the biggest consumer of Amazon Web Services.
However, on the 7th of November, a court filing that recently became unsealed revealed that Marc Merrill was actually the anonymous victim that was hidden from the public. While Ho was using up AWS and Google Cloud computing power, the financial staff of the Los Angeles based developer paid some of the bills until the fraud was detected.
As alleged by the unsealed court filing, the act went on for months. Ho stole Marc’s American Express credit card details and used it to place an order for Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and more. In fact, the US prosecutors alleged that at some point, he created a fake California driver’s license with Marc Merrill’s name.
Matthew managed to gain access to both Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services’ admin exclusive privileges using social engineering. This allowed him to continuously use enormous computing power for months without paying. He was able to make Amazon Web Services believe that he was really the cofounder of Riot Games.
Ho used the computing power to mine numerous cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and
Bitcoin. According to the statement made by the United States Department of Justice,
“In the few months his scheme remained active, Ho consumed more than $5 million in unpaid cloud computing services with his mining operation and, for a brief period, was one of Amazon Web Services (AWS) largest consumers of data usage by volume. Some of the bills were paid by the California game developer’s financial staff before the fraud was detected.
Although the US prosecutors charged Matthew Ho early last month, October, it only just became public on the 7th of November that the California-based Riot Games co-founder, Marc Merrill, was involved. Riot Games is the developer company famous for creating the League of Legends. Marc has yet to give media any information on the case.
Matthew Ho is currently facing multiple charges – two counts of aggravated identity theft, four counts of access device fraud, and eight counts of wire frauds.