NiceHash Founder Charged with Fraud and Racketeering

A federal court in Washington DC has made public an indictment charging Matjaž Škorjanc, the founder of NiceHash, with racketeering and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

NiceHash is a Bitcoin hash-power broker which connects sellers (i.e. miners) with buyers.

The fresh indictments which could land Škorjanc up to 50 years behind bars.

The charges relate to Škorjanc’s platform called Dark0de — a ‘black marketplace’ and forum for cybercrime.

Škorjanc Is on the Run

Škorjanc’s whereabouts are currently unknown. The other Slovenian indicted, Mentor Leniqi, is also at large. Thomas McCormick, the sole American indicated, was arrested last December.

Škorjanc and his cohort are alleged to have defrauded around $4.5M through credit card scams and various schemes organized through the Dark0de platform. The site was closed in 2015 with arrests of 70 people in total, but now fresh charges are being brought forward against key figures involved in the fraud.

In 2014, Škorjanc founded NiceHash alongside Marko Kobal. Both resigned after the marketplace suffered a high-profile hack in late 2017. Around $65M of BTC was stolen then and, as of January 2019, about 71 percent of the funds have been returned.


Not So NiceHash

In December 2017, Škorjanc claimed in a Reddit AMA that the hack was due to forces “trying to suppress NiceHash.” 

The goal of the attack was to destroy Nicehash, which is the largest and completely free market for calculating power for mining. It’s already a multi-billion-dollar business that is steadily rising, from month to month. Somebody probably tried to suppress us.

However, since the AMA, reports have indicated that Škorjanc is not who he says he is. What has seemingly flown under the radar is that, in 2013, he was actually sentenced to four years and ten months for creating a malware botnet which infected 1M computers. It’s unclear how much time he has served in prison since he has disappeared in the past few years.

Do you believe Škorjanc will ever be caught? Have you used NiceHash before? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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