An IT security worker who hacked websites and stole data from businesses has been jailed after police checked his neighbour's WI-FI.
Craig Fox, from Chadderton in Oldham, targeted homeware and interior design companies across the country, a court heard.
The 36-year-old told officers he did not have a phone or computer, despite hacking into multiple sites.
The first incident took place on Sunday 2 May 2021, when Mr Fox posted a religious video onto a businesses' website, resulting in customers being unable to purchase anything from the site.
Files were also deleted, costing the company and causing stress to the owners.
The next attack happened the following day on the website of a similar company.
This time Fox sent emails from the business email account making false claims about the company, the court was told.
The website was also defaced - stating Fox had access to all of the accounts and would leak sensitive data to the public if his demands were not met.
An investigation was then launched and Cheshire's Police Cyber Crime Team were led to an address on Marsland Road in Sale.
They carried out a warrant but could not find anything suspicious.
But after speaking to the occupant, they said they recalled that their neighbour had asked to use their Wi-Fi.
Officers found a device called 'CraigLaptop' had previously been linked up to it.
Police were let into the property by a housemate of Fox and searched his room.
A piece of paper with the Wi-Fi code for his neighbours house was found, including a charger for a Dell laptop.
But police could not find a laptop or phone so arranged to speak with Fox who claimed he did not own a laptop, and had been loaning a phone.
Fox was arrested and a laptop was found at an office in Manchester, which was found to contain key evidence.
While Fox was released under investigation, officers found that he had hacked several other businesses.
He claimed he had 'exposed weaknesses' in their IT security and asked for donations for the 'work' he carried out and provided his bank details. He was summoned to court.
Craig Fox, of Scholes Drive, Chadderton, appeared at court on Friday 12 August after pleading guilty to two counts of blackmail, six counts of the Computer Misuse Act and three counts of fraud by false representation. He was jailed for five years.
He was also handed a 10-year Criminal Behaviour Order and must pay £190 in court costs.
Detective Sergeant Dave MacFarlane said: "This was a complex case and I would like to thank the victims and witnesses without whom this result would not have been possible.
"I would also like to thank the courts for passing down the sentence that they have to Fox.
“I hope that this case acts as a deterrent and shows how we are relentless in our pursuit of criminals and will not stop until justice is served.”
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...