Maltese suspected hacker to be extradited to United States for computer malware crimes

27-year-old Maltese national arrested in Gudja arraigned in court for extradition to USA following FBI investigation

Daniel Joe Meli appeared in court on Thursday to begin extradition proceedings
Daniel Joe Meli appeared in court on Thursday to begin extradition proceedings

A Maltese man is waiting to be extradited to the United States after an operation by the Maltese police assisting the FBI in investigations led to his arrest.

Daniel Joe Meli, who is 27 years old is believed to have worked with people who are not Maltese in connection with the sale of illegal malware on the dark web. The accused, who is from Żabbar, was also said to have been involved in mentoring services on a hack forum, an internet forum for hacker culture and computer security.

The malware, a remote access trojan or RAT, is used by criminals to gain access to computers and servers and control their operation. The police said there were several victims in the United States who had fallen prey to this RAT, with no reported victims in Malta so far.

Meli's social media profiles suggests that he used to work with Air Malta as a check-in agent, and that he now works with Aviaserve.

The investigations in Malta, overseen by the police cybercrime unit, were initiated following a request for assistance from the United States, which indicated that the prime suspect in the sale of this RAT is Maltese.

Investigations revealed the identification of the Maltese suspect and his association with other criminals who are not Maltese and do not reside in Malta.

The suspect was arrested at his workplace in Gudja on 7 February, and during searches conducted at various locations related to the suspect, numerous items linked to this investigation were seized.

The 27-year-old man appeared in court on Thursday afternoon before Magistrate Dr. Giannella Camilleri Busuttil LL.D, to begin extradition proceedings to the United States, where he will face charges before the American court.

He has consented to extradition and is being held in custody at the Correctional Facility in Kordin.

In connection with this investigation, a Nigerian accomplice, residing in Nigeria, was also arrested.

Operations in various countries related to the same illegal malware trade on the dark web were being coordinated by Europol, involving several other states, including the Australian Federal Police, the Canadian Police, Croatian Police, Finnish Police, Dutch Police, Romanian Police, German Police, and Nigerian authorities.