Busted: FB page Favradio shares fake news about hacker Hamza Bendellajd’s death by hanging

Facebook page Favradio posted a collage of photos of convicted Algerian hacker and malware developer Hamza Bendellajd with a caption claiming that the hacker died. Based on the photos alone, it was implied that he died by hanging.
Favradio wrote, “The smiling Hamza Bendellajd, a computer science graduate, one of the World’s greatest hackers. He withdrew more than 400 million from 217 banks and gave it to charities in Africa and Palestine. He stated that money and power are nothing if they are not used to build a better World. R.I.P TO THE SMILING HACKER.”

Hamza Bendellajd

Along with this caption were three photos of Bendellajd, two of him during his capture in Thailand in January 2013, while one was of someone about to be hanged. At first look, you’d think the man waving at someone in the crowd with a rope around his neck was Bendellajd. They do have similarities.
However, a closer look and a Google Image search later, we found out that the hanged man is certainly not Bendellajd. He turned out to be Majid Kavousifar, an Iranian civilian sentenced to death by hanging after killing a local judge. Kavoursifar died in 2007.

We also found this false meme about Kavousifar, passing him off as Bendellajd.

Hamza Bendellajd

We also found out that this is not the first time Kavousifar’s hanging photo was used in a hoax. GMA News Online also debunked a hoax in 2013 that used Kavousifar’s photo, claiming that he was a Christian who died a martyr.

Hamza Bendellajd

But was Bendellajd really sentenced to death by hanging?

On April 18, 2016, Aljazaeera published a report about how Bendellajd could be sentenced up to 60 years in American prison for developing and using a computer virus to steal millions from bank accounts.

But an Aljazeera report on April 23, 2016 showed that Bendellajd was sentenced by an American court to 15 years in prison and three years of supervised released for developing and distributing the malicious SpyEye malware.

The hacker pleaded guilty to 10 counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiring to commit bank and wire fraud, one count of conspiring to pull off computer fraud and abuse, and 11 counts of computer fraud and abuse.

His malware, SpyEye, allowed criminals to obtain usernames, passwords and credit card information from targets.

Bendellajd was about to travel to Malaysia to reach Algeria when he was caught in transit in Thailand in 2013. He was later extradited to the US.

In a September 2015 report, Aljazeera also wrote about the death sentence rumors floating about Bendellajd online. However, this was debunked by US authorities and even by the US ambassador to Algeria Joan Polaschik herself, who said that “computer crimes are not capital [ones] and are not punishable by the death penalty.”

The website translated Polaschik’s tweets from French to English. translated this into: “1/2 Bendelladj Hamza pleaded guilty June 26 for having developed, distributed, and monitored a malicious SpyEye banking Trojan.”

This translates to: “2/2 The verdict will take place in a few months. Computer crimes are not capital crimes and are not punished by the death penalty.”

So, Favradio’s message of condolence about the hacker’s death is not exactly appropriate because it’s not true that Bendellajd died by hanging. He did not commit a capital crime that deserved the death penalty so he is still serving his sentence in the US prison.

Once again, Favradio has shared another fake news. But this isn’t the Facebook page’s first hoax, though. It also shared fake stories about Bishop Soc Villegas telling Duterte to resign, Henry Sy buying Duterte a private jet, Senator Risa Hontiveros prohibiting tattoo exposure, and Senator Leila De Lima pushing for social media ban, among other hoaxes.

Sources: ( , , )

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