NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. prosecutors say a member of an Iran-based hacking group tried to extort HBO out of $6 million in digital currency by stealing unaired episodes and scripts of hit shows like “Game of Thrones.”
An indictment unsealed Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan accuses Behzad Mesri of hacking into the cable network’s computer system in New York. It says he stole episodes from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” ”The Deuce” and other series, along with scripts of “Game of Thrones.”
“If you hack our people, our companies, our institutions, we will work relentlessly and creatively, applying all the tools available to us, to identify you, to find you and charge you,” Joon Kim, acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a news conference Tuesday.
HBO employees first received an email in July reading “Hi to all losers. HBO is hacked,” 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
Kim said staffers later received an anonymous email with an image of Night King, the main villain from “Game of Thrones,” saying “Good luck to HBO.” The email also included the phrase “Winter is Coming” and Mesri allegedly added his own ominous threat, “HBO is falling.”
Prosecutors say Mesri threatened to delete data on HBO’s computer system or release the stolen material unless he received $6 million in Bitcoin.
Kim said the 29-year-old previously had worked for the Iranian military and “he has been wreaking havoc on computer systems around the world for some time.”
Mesri is believed to be overseas not in custody.
“There will be some real consequences for him,” Kim said. “For the rest of his life, and he’s a relatively young man in his late 20s, he will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and brought here to face these charges.”
In a statement Tuesday, HBO said it was working with law enforcement but declined further comment.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)