A cyber criminal who ran a product-testing service for hackers has been sentenced to 24 months in prison.

Goncalo Esteves, 24, of Colchester, Essex, admitted guilt in January this year following a joint investigation by the National Crime Agency and cyber security firm Trend Micro.

Esteves ran the website reFUD.me, which allowed offenders to test, for a fee, whether their malicious cyber tools could beat anti-virus scanners.

Under the pseudonym KillaMuvz, he also sold custom-made malware-disguising products and offered technical support to users.

He was sentenced last week in relation to two computer misuse offences and a count of money laundering at Blackfriars Crown Court.

Esteves called his encryption tools Cryptex Reborn and Cryptex Lite. Part of a family of cyber tools known as crypters, they could be used by hackers to improve their chances of dodging anti-virus.

Esteves provided customer support via a dedicated Skype account and accepted payment either in conventional currency, in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin or in Amazon vouchers.

NCA officers discovered that Esteves made £32,000 from more than 800 Paypal transactions between 2011 and 2015.

The NCA said he is likely to have made far more as this sum does not include payments Esteves accepted in Bitcoin and Amazon vouchers.

“Esteves helped hackers to sharpen their knives before going after their victims,” said Mike Hulett, head of operations at the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit.

“His clients were most likely preparing to target businesses and ordinary people with fraud and extortion attempts.

“He made a fair bit of money, but he’d probably have made much more, and certainly for longer, if he’d pursued a legitimate career in cyber security.

“We’re grateful to Trend Micro for their ongoing support in tackling cyber crime.”