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Two men plead guilty to hacking federal law enforcement portal

June 20, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
Skull and bone as a symbol of hacking programs or personal information and data.
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Two men plead guilty in Brooklyn’s federal court on Monday to hacking into a law enforcement portal and stealing sensitive personal information.

Sagar Steven Singh, 20, from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and Nicholas Ceraolo, 26, from Queens, New York, confessed to conspiring to commit computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft in Brooklyn federal court.

“The defendants called themselves ‘ViLe,’ and their actions were exactly that,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “They hacked into a law enforcement database and had access to sensitive personal information, then threatened to harm a victim’s family and publicly release that information unless the defendants were ultimately paid money.”

Singh and Ceraolo were part of a group called “ViLe,” known for collecting and posting victims’ personal information on public websites — a practice known as “doxxing.” The group’s emblem, a disturbing image of a hanging girl, reflects their activities.

A screenshot of the "ViLe" group's website, featuring their disturbing emblem of a hanging girl, used to intimidate and extort victims by threatening to publicly release stolen personal information. Courtesy of Eastern District of NY
A screenshot of the “ViLe” group’s website, featuring their disturbing emblem of a hanging girl, used to intimidate and extort victims by threatening to publicly release stolen personal information. Courtesy of Eastern District of NY

The pair used a stolen law enforcement officer’s password to breach a federal online portal. This portal, designed to share intelligence with state and local agencies, contained detailed records of narcotics and currency seizures and law enforcement intelligence reports. Singh and Ceraolo exploited this access to threaten and extort victims.

Singh’s threats were unambiguous. He told one victim, “I have access to federal databases. I can request information on anyone in the U.S. You’re gonna comply if you don’t want anything negative to happen to your parents.” 

Singh demanded the victim’s Instagram credentials and proceeds from the sale of those accounts.

Singh described the portal as having “potent tools” and admitted to accessing it through a “jacked” police officer’s account. Both men knew their actions were illegal. Ceraolo admitted, “We’re all gonna get raided one of these days, I swear.” 

The case is being prosecuted by the National Security and Cybercrime Section, with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander Mindlin, Ellen H. Sise, and Adam Amir leading the charge. When sentenced, Singh and Ceraolo each face between two and seven years in prison.


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