A British computer expert who was hailed a hero after helping shut down a worldwide cyber attack that paralysed NHS computers will appear in a US court on Friday charged with creating software that harvested banking details.
Marcus Hutchins, 23, was arrested at Las Vagas’s McCarran International Airport on Wednesday as he was leaving a hacker conference, according to one of his friends.
Mr Hutchins, from Ilfracombe, Devon, will face a judge in Las Vegas accused of six counts of creating and distributing a banking malware.
The US Department of Justice said Mr Hutchins has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, three counts of distributing and advertising an electronic communication interception device, one count of endeavouring to intercept electronic communications, and one count of attempting to access a computer without authorisation.
The six charges relate to the creation and distribution of software that harvested banking details known as Kronos banking Trojan, and are alleged to have taken place between July 2014 and July 2015.
“Cybercrime remains a top priority for the FBI,” said Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Justin Tolomeo.
“Cybercriminals cost our economy billions in losses each year.
“The FBI will continue to work with our partners, both domestic and international, to bring offenders to justice.”
The arrest comes just months after Mr Hutchins helped find the “kill switch” that halted a ransomware virus called ‘WannaCry’ that had infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries.
The computer expert, who goes by the computer handle MalwareTech, had been in the US attending the Def Con event in Nevada city before his arrest.
Mr Hutchins’ friend, who works in the cyber security industry and was with him at the time, said the 22-year-old “was escorted out of the airport and never made his flight.”
Speaking on the condition of anonymity he said: “He was detained at McCarran airport yesterday. He checked into his flight and I think he was sitting in the Virgin upper class lounge.
“He was escorted out of the airport and never made his flight.”
The National Crime Agency (NCA) has confirmed Mr Hutchins is being held.