Adrian Kwiatkowski, the 22-year-old who hacked the cloud-based accounts of 89 artists (including Ed Sheeran and Lil Uzi Vert) and sold their unreleased tracks, has been sentenced to 18 months behind bars.
City of London Police detailed the sentence today, and according to the department’s announcement message, Kwiatkowski was found to have “obtained unreleased and unfinished material from the accounts and sold them in exchange for cryptocurrency.”
The years-long police investigation into the illicit operation – “supported by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry” – is said to have kicked off in the States in 2019, “after the management companies of several musicians reported that” their clients’ various cloud accounts had been compromised. Additionally, the text indicates that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office traced the for-sale song files at hand to an individual operating as “Spirdark” online.
From there, the email address behind Spirdark’s crypto wallet(s) was linked to Kwiatkowski, the text explains, and the hacker’s IP address and location were then identified before his September of 2019 arrest across the pond. At the time of this arrest, officers reportedly retrieved seven devices – among them “a hard drive that contained 1,263 unreleased songs by 89 artists,” including the aforementioned Ed Sheeran and Lil Uzi Vert.
Making matters worse for Kwiatkowski – who City of London Police say rather conspicuously deposited £61,855 from his crypto accounts into his bank account between February of 2018 and September of 2019 – the hard drive also contained a document that “summarised the method he had used to obtain” the songs, per the release.
It ultimately came to light that Kwiatkowski had made £131,000 from the scheme, and the profit-minded hacker pleaded guilty to 14 copyright charges in late August.
Touting the investigation and the sentence in a statement, Daryl Fryatt, a detective constable with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) in London, communicated: “Kwiatkowski was a highly skilled individual who unfortunately saw potential in using his abilities unlawfully. Not only did he cause several artists and their production companies significant financial harm, he deprived them of the ability to release their own work.
“This investigation is an excellent example of the way PIPCU and its partner agencies work across international borders to identify those involved in criminal activity. Kwiatkowski will now face the consequences of his actions, and I hope this result will also make his customers refrain from purchasing illegal content again.”