US extradites French cybercrime suspect

The US has scored another successful extradition bid against an overseas cybercriminal suspect, this time against a French national it accuses of involvement with a gang that launched attacks on American firms including Microsoft.

It believes French student Sébastien Raoult, 21, is affiliated to the ShinyHunters gang, identified by cybersecurity analyst Intel 471 in 2020 as a data-theft group of notable ruthlessness and efficacy.

According to Intel, ShinyHunters has been responsible for “some of the most notable data breaches that have been made public” that cost the victim organizations "tens of millions of dollars." Intel said high-profile scalps included data exfiltration attacks on Microsoft’s GitHub account, photo editing app Pixlr, and men’s clothing retailer Bonobos.

Raoult stands accused of involvement in the ShinyHunter hacking attacks on more than sixty organizations and faces up to 116 years in federal prison if convicted, according to French newspaper Le Monde.

But the case has sparked controversy in Raoult’s native France, where his parents claim their son has in fact been a victim of cybercrime himself – namely, identity theft, leading to the FBI to mistakenly finger him as a culprit in the ShinyHunter cyberattacks.

Whatever the truth of the matter, it would appear the US authorities will have their trial – the government of Morocco agreed to their request to detain Raoult for two months while he was vacationing in the north African country, and now its court of cassation has agreed to comply with the extradition request.

The move appears to mark a growing determination by the US to prosecute suspected threat actors targeting its interests, coming hard on the heels of its extradition of Russian national Alexander Vinnik, who arrived in San Francisco last week to face charges of cryptocurrency-related money laundering.

Raoult’s family have appealed to French president Emmanuel Macron to intervene, as his lawyers in France seek to overturn the decision and have him returned to France.