Alleged Syrian hacker is extradited to the US on extortion charges

Peter Romar was recently arrested in Germany

A hacker with alleged connections to members of the  Syrian Electronic Army appeared in a Virginia court Tuesday to face charges of participating in an extortion scheme that threatened victims to delete or sell data from compromised computers.  

Peter Romar, who was detained by German authorities on a provisional arrest warrant on behalf of the U.S., had been earlier charged by a criminal complaint unsealed on March 22. The Syrian national, also known as Pierre Romar, was residing in Waltershausen in Germany.

He is alleged to have worked with Firas Dardar from Homs, Syria, on the extortion scheme.

Dardar and Ahmad Umar Agha, a resident of Damascus, are separately charged with targeting the U.S. government, Harvard University, Human Rights Watch and various media outlets, which were seen to be detractors of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the Department of Justice.

Both Agha and Dardar are believed to be in Syria. The FBI said in March it was adding Agha and Dardar to its Cyber Most Wanted list and offering a reward of US$100,000 for information that leads to their arrest. 

In 2012, for example, SEA hacked the Twitter account of the Reuters news agency and started sending tweets with false information on the Syrian conflict. The agency’s news website was also hacked and a false report was posted to a reporter’s blog.

The government was able to track down the ring by using court warrants to get access to the Facebook and Gmail communications of the group.

Dardar started using his computer hacking skills and notoriety as a SEA hacker for personal monetary gain through computer intrusion and extortion schemes that used phishing emails, according to a filing in September last year in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Some 14 victims of the extortion scheme were detected in the U.S. and abroad between July 2013 and December 2014.

In at least one instance, Dardar attempted to use his affiliation with the SEA to scare his victim, according to the DOJ.

While Dadar conducted computer intrusions from Syria and sent threats and payment demands to victims, Romar, from his location in Germany, received and attempted to retransmit the extortion proceeds to SEA members in Syria, in violation of U.S. sanctions against Syria, according to DOJ. Romar was aware that he was receiving extortion funds from hacking activities and was assisting in evading the U.S. sanctions, according to court records.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

More about Department of JusticeDOJFacebookFBIHarvard UniversityHuman Rights WatchTwitter

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by John Ribeiro

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts