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Arrest in Epic Cyber Swindle

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A1, AUGUST 18, 2009

Carolyn's note: to read the entire story, you must pay to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. IMHO it carries the best cybercrime stories and is well worth the price for that alone.


A 28-year-old American, believed by prosecutors to be one of the nation's cybercrime kingpins, was indicted Monday along with two Russian accomplices on charges that they carried out the largest hacking and identity-theft caper in U.S. history.

Federal prosecutors alleged the three masterminded a global scheme to steal data from more than 130 million credit and debit cards by hacking into the computer systems of five major companies, including Hannaford Bros. supermarkets, 7-Eleven and Heartland Payment Systems Inc., a credit-card processing company.

The indictment in federal district court in New Jersey marks the latest and largest in at least five years of crime that has brought its alleged orchestrator, Albert Gonzalez of Miami, in and out of federal grasp. Detained in 2003, Mr. Gonzalez was briefly an informant to the Secret Service before he allegedly returned to commit even bolder crimes.

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Carolyn's note: This Gonzales fellow is really in trouble now. He's behind bars (think roommate Bubba), and the Feds have publicized the fact that he's a "narc." Gonzales is probably safer in jail now than on the streets because criminals have been known to make narcs disappear. Permanently.

This is just one more reason for the Hacker General's warning: Computer crime may be hazardous for your health.

Student sentenced for F-*cked up grade hack

"Act of clods"

By Dan Goodin in San FranciscoGet more from this author

Posted in Security, 14th April 2009 23:52 GMT

A university student in Florida on Tuesday was sentenced to 22 months in prison for his role in a bungled scheme to hack into his school's computer system and make hundreds of grade changes.

Christopher Jacquette, 29, of Tallahassee was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release for his part in the plot, which used keyloggers to access protected computers at Florida A & M University, according to federal prosecutors. Along with cohorts Lawrence Secrease and Marcus Barrington, his caper reads like a modern-day episode of The Three Stooges.

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Carolyn's note: Ever since the hero of the movie War Games broke into a school computer and changed his girlfriend's grades, clueless hackers have been trying to change their grades, too. It almost never works, either. Just as with Jacquette, whenever someone discovers bogus grades, it sure is easy to figure out who dunnit. I mean, really, when Jacquette changed hundreds of grades, how did he expect nobody would ever notice?

Convicted Trojan author in new hacking charge

By John LeydenGet more from this author

Posted in Crime, 31st March 2009 15:59 GMT

Van T. Dinh, 25, was charged with two counts of computer hacking last Friday over accusations he hacked into an online currency exchange service before allegedly attempted to transfer $110,000 to an account under his control. The alleged transfers were made in two batches days apart in December 2008, after Dinh had allegedly broken into the firm's admin systems. He's further accused of using this privileged access in attempting currency trades involving two other third-party customer accounts, and of trying to transfer $140,000 into one of these accounts.

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Romanian citizen sentenced in phishing scheme

March 30, 2009 6:28 PM ET

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Romanian citizen was sentenced Monday to more than four years in prison as the first foreign defendant convicted in a global crime ring that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Internet users.

Ovidiu-Ionut Nicola-Roman pleaded guilty last year for his role in the "phishing" scheme, which involved sending fraudulent e-mails that included links that directed recipients to fake Web sites where they were asked to input sensitive data. In all, 38 people have been charged in Connecticut and California, and more than half are Romanians.

Authorities say Nicola-Roman accessed e-mail accounts containing stolen credit card information and used the credit card numbers to steal between $200,000 and $400,000. He we was sentenced Monday to 50 months in prison.

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Prosecutors charge former IRS employee with filing false tax claims

By Jill R. Aitoro 03/30/2009

Federal prosecutors on Monday charged a former Internal Revenue Service employee with illegally accessing agency computers and filing false claims against the government.

Andrea Bennett allegedly used an IRS computer system when she was a contact representative in Indianapolis to view the tax accounts of 12 individuals and prepare six fraudulent 2006 income tax returns. According to the Justice Department, Bennett accessed the Integrated Data Retrieval System 285 times between May 2007 and November 2007 for nonwork reasons.

The charges followed probes by the IRS criminal investigation division and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

"Since it is an ongoing case, we can't comment," said Robert Sperling, a spokesman for TIGTA, when asked whether the incident reflects weaknesses in IDRS access controls, or a failure in employee oversight. "We're letting the U.S. attorney handle it from this point on."

Timothy Morrison, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, said each of the six income tax returns Bennett filed contained false Indianapolis addresses and fictitious income and dependent information that allowed her to claim the maximum refundable earned income tax credit. The IRS allegedly granted her refunds for five of the returns, totaling $13,813, before she was caught.

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