British Afrobeat singer pleads guilty to stealing $6 million in hacks on financial accounts
A British man pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday to charges related to hacking into email and brokerage accounts and stealing more than $6 million from victims.
Idris Dayo Mustapha faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of computer intrusion, securities fraud, wire fraud and access device fraud.
According to the Department of Justice, from 2011 until 2018 Mustapha and his unnamed co-conspirators siphoned funds from financial accounts whose login information they illegally accessed through phishing attacks and by hacking into the servers of U.S. financial institutions — where they “reviewed confidential user data, and placed malicious files on the servers.”
Initially, the fraudsters initiated wire transfers from the accounts by impersonating the victims. They also stole securities through brokerage accounts. Later, after several transactions were blocked by suspicious financial institutions, the group pivoted to securities fraud, betting against trades they made on victims’ brokerage accounts.
“On May 17, 2016, Mustapha caused a victim to purchase the stock of a public company at increasing prices through the victim’s hacked brokerage account, and Mustapha then coordinated his own trading in order to sell other shares of that same stock at a profit in his own brokerage account,” the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged in a 2016 complaint. Over two months, Mustapha allegedly made $68,000 in profits through securities fraud while his victims lost approximately $289,000.
Mustapha and his co-conspirators also developed romantic relationships online using the aliases “Melanie Saunders” and “Tracy Ben” in order to set up so-called “drop” accounts. After gaining their trust, they would convince unwitting targets to deposit checks and transfer money on their behalf.
On top of his cybercriminal career, Mustapha was one part of an Afrobeat music group called Built to Win Baller’s Club and recorded music under the name Drizzle Lomo. According to the Nigerian publication The Guardian he studied information communication technology at University of Bradford in the UK.
has worked as a journalist around the world, including in Lebanon and in Cambodia, where he was Deputy Managing Editor of The Phnom Penh Post. He is also a radio and podcast producer for outlets like Snap Judgment.