BANGKOK – Thai police have arrested an Algerian national wanted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation for allegedly making tens of millions of dollars from cybercrime, officials said Monday.
Hamza Bendelladj, 24, was arrested late Sunday while attempting to transit through Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport from Malaysia, Immigration Bureau chief Pharnu Kerdlarpphon said.
“We were tipped off to his arrival by the FBI, who have been following his case for the past three years,” Pol Lt Gen Pharnu said.
Mr Bendelladj, who graduated in computer sciences in Algeria in 2008, has allegedly hacked private accounts in 217 banks and financial companies worldwide, amassing “huge amounts” in illicit earnings, Pol Lt Gen Pharnu told a press conference.
“With just one transaction he could earn 10 to 20 million dollars,” Lt Gen Phanu said. “He’s been travelling the world flying first class and living a life of luxury.”
A satellite phone and notebook computer were his main tools, the commissioner said.
Thailand will seek to extradite Bendelladj to the US state of Georgia, where a court has issued a warrant for his arrest.
A smiling Bendelladj, who was present at the press conference, denied claims by the Thai authorities that he was on the FBI’s top-10 most wanted list.
“I’m not in the top 10, maybe just 20th or 50th,” the Algerian suspect said with a laugh. “I am not a terrorist.”