Marcus Hutchins is due in court later on Friday charged with creating and distributing an earlier Trojan virus

An Ilfracombe man formerly hailed as the hero who stopped a global cyber attack is appearing in court today (Friday) charged with creating and distributing an earlier computer virus.

Marcus Hutchins, 23, is to appear at court in Las Vegas before US District Magistrate Judge Koppe at 3pm local time, charged with creating and distributing the Kronos banking Trojan, which can steal bank details.

He was arrested on Tuesday at McCarran International Airport after attending the Defcon computer convention.

A statement given to the Gazette by the US Department of Justice said ‘on July 11, 2017, following a two-year long investigation, a federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Marcus Hutchins, also known as ‘Malwaretech’, for his role in creating and distributing the Kronos banking Trojan’.

It went on: ‘In the indictment, Hutchins was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, three counts of distributing and advertising an electronic communication interception device, one count of endeavoring to intercept electronic communications, and one count of attempting to access a computer without authorization.

‘The alleged conduct for which Hutchins was arrested occurred between in or around July 2014 and July 2015’.

In May, Mr Hutchins was hailed a hero for his role in stopping the WannaCry virus that hit NHS systems around the UK and computers across the world.

The statement said ‘according to the indictment, the Kronos banking Trojan was designed to harvest and transfer the username and password associated with banking websites as they are entered on an infected computer to a control panel hosted on another computer inaccessible to the victim’.

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Joens tweeted he would be ‘contacting the Foreign Office about Marcus Hutchins to ensure he receives urgent Consular support’.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Cyber Crime Task in Milwaukee.

It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael J Chmelar and Benjamin W Proctor.

“Cybercrime remains a top priority for the FBI,” said Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Justin Tolomeo.

“Cybercriminals cost our economy billions in losses each year. The FBI will continue to work with our partners, both domestic and international, to bring offenders to justice.”

The statement added: ‘The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt’.