The Hack That Warmed the World

From: Foreign Policy

Europe’s carbon-trading market was supposed to be capitalism’s solution to global warming. Instead, it became a playground for gangsters, international crime syndicates, and even two-bit crooks — who stole hundreds of millions of dollars in pollution credits.

By McKenzie Funk

The client wanted carbon credits: tradable serial numbers that confer the right to pollute the Earth with invisible, odorless gas. Jugga, as the client called himself, planned to steal the credits, quickly resell them, and become rich overnight—but he needed the Black Dragon to hack into a computer system to help him do it. The Dragon, who in online forums advertised his services as a corporate spy, was sure he could hack anything. But when Jugga contacted him in June 2011, the hacker had no idea what carbon credits even were. “I didn’t think anyone would be stupid enough to come up with that,” the Dragon says of the concept.

The two men communicated via secure online chats, using their pseudonyms. In real life, the Dragon was 31-year-old Matthew Beddoes, a coal miner’s son, high-school dropout, and self-taught computer whiz who collected thousands of strangers’ credit card numbers and floated from couch to couch in central England’s Midlands region. Jugga was 36-year-old Jasdeep Singh Randhawa, who was previously part of a cigarette-smuggling network in Leicestershire.

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