According to Motherboard, an anonymous entity provided court documents that linked a Canadian teenager to one of the owners of the Hell forum. In 2015, the alleged owner of the forum hacked into a TeacherLogic account. The forum (temporarily) shut down in July of that same year. Circumstantial evidence caused several individuals to believe that random Canadian hackers matched Ping’s profile. Since, if true, Ping is still a minor and, in addition, Motherboard admitted that they could not verify the information, this could be the real Ping or yet another mistaken identity.
Two weeks after the disappearance, Ping made a full return, to the skepticism of many. Hell made headlines after the infamous Adult Friend Finder breach wherein a hacker dumped 3,867,997 emails connected to names, sexual preference, and similarly identifying data. Since then, the forum grew and hosted several stolen databases. Hackers could sell the fruits of their labor or share trade secrets–the choice was up to the user.
The original owner of Hell went only by “Ping.” He, prior to Hell, controlled another forum called Olympus. Ping claimed that he learned the basics and essentials of carding from an even older forum, HackBB. He used the knowledge he gained from HackBB to make some money for himself and his friends, he explained. After HackBB crumbled, along with everything else hosted by Freedom Hosting, “Ping” emerged as a new identity and fresh start.
From there, Ping brought the forums to a point where he feared for his safety from the Federal government. He admitted that he lived in Canada but was not a native of the country. He cryptically said, in an interview with Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai of Motherboard, “If I am gone for over a day it means that I have been arrested.” Ping disappeared in mid-June and reappeared shortly afterwards. Notably, he told Franceschi-Bicchierai that he would reach out on a date that just so happened to be the second or third day of his absence.
The reappearance was a brief one; he announced the closure of the forum. Ping claimed two forum members, “Cptcrnch” and “Revolt” doxed him. Cpt reached out to Franceschi-Bicchierai with a screenshot of what Cpt claimed to be an exchange between himself and Ping.
Cptcrnch and Revolt said that Ping was a 33-year-old carder from Calgary named Dimitri Barbu. “This is the end,” Ping wrote in the forum announcement where he mentioned the forum’s closure. “Maybe I will come back into this world again learning from my mistakes and rebuild an amazing community like this again but this is the last you will ever hear from Ping. I am not good with goodbyes so ya and thanks to all.”
Hell did not send with Ping’s absence. A former member named “HA,” relaunched the site shortly after Ping’s retirement or arrest. “Hell is now public. Anyone can share the HELL URL where they see fit”
Not everybody believed that he had been doxed by anyone at all. Since then he learned from his security issues and decided that then was as good a time as any to call it quits.
According to Joseph Cox’s most recent update on the forum’s long-lost owner, he was a 15-year-old during the Hell days. He used a keylogger to access a teacher’s username and password. Prior to the keylogger, he attempted to use his neighbor’s wifi to send phishing emails in an attempt to access the TeacherLogic accounts.
This information, Cox said, came from a hacker “who claims they obtained the documents from someone’s email account and has links to the Hell forum provided the files to Motherboard.”
“As for how this all relates to Ping and the Hell forum, when police executed the search warrant, they allegedly found the boy was using the username Ping (although the website or program is not mentioned). The boy was also apparently hosting a Tor hidden service on his own computer called Ping Sec.”
If this information is true, a 15-year-old Canadian teenager operated the forums. But he also claimed to have been active in hacking communities for three years before Hell. For reference, he claimed to be a user of HackBB when Freedom Hosting went down in 2013. Around the same period of time, Ping and The Real Deal connected and were associated. Whoever he is, he managed to make around $5,000 per month based on the skills he learned as a 12-year-old.