Sandu Diaconu, the operator of the illegal online marketplace E-Root, has been extradited to the United States, where he faces a maximum prison term of 20 years for his involvement in selling access to compromised computers. Diaconu, a Moldovan defendant, was arrested in the U.K. in May 2021 while attempting to flee after the seizure of E-Root’s domains by authorities in late 2020.
Last month, Diaconu consented to extradition on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, computer fraud, and access device fraud. In addition to imprisonment, U.S. law enforcement authorities aim to determine and seek forfeiture of the criminal proceeds earned by Diaconu through his illegal activities.
E-Root was an illicit online marketplace that provided access to hacked computers worldwide in exchange for cryptocurrency. Investigations have revealed evidence that over 350,000 compromised systems were listed for sale on the platform, including computers from diverse industries and even a government system in Tampa.
Buyers on E-Root had access to filtered search tools to browse the available offerings, using criteria such as price range, region, ISP, operating system, and the type of access (RDP or SSH). The marketplace operated across a widely distributed network, employing various security measures to conceal the true identities of vendors, buyers, and administrators. E-Root also facilitated a dedicated cryptocurrency exchange service to convert Bitcoin and Perfect Money, an otherwise legitimate encrypted electronic transaction service.
The U.S. Department of Justice reported numerous instances of access purchased through E-Root being used in cybercrime activities, including ransomware attacks and schemes related to stolen identity tax fraud. Diaconu has not yet entered a guilty plea to the charges outlined in the indictment and is presumed innocent until proven guilty, as stated by the U.S. Department of Justice.