Feeds

Trainee(!) dishwasher pleads guilty to $80m identity fraud

Obsessive Compulsive Theft

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A 32 year-old former trainee dishwasher (how can you be a trainee dishwasher?) has pleaded guilty to masterminding what investigators believe is the largest identity theft scam ever attempted.

Abraham Abdallah, a high-school dropout and restaurant worker, obtained the personal details of top figures in Hollywood and Wall Street (including Steven Spielberg and Microsoft's Paul Allen) to obtain fraudulent loans in their name and scam credit companies. Court documents filed in New York charge that he used this information, and details of US corporates and financial institutions, in a scam designed to net up to $80 million.

Yesterday Abdallah pleaded guilty to a 12-count indictment charging him with wire, mail and credit card fraud, identity theft and conspiracy, Reuters reports.

In his defence, Abdallah said he was not motivated by greed but by depression and an obsessive compulsive disorder.

"This case is not about money," he told U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska. "I have extensive history in this sort of thing... it always had to do with my ability to control my compulsions."

The case made news after a similar state prosecution last year which alleged that Abdallah used computers in public libraries and the phone to get credit records of numerous celebrities including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Steven Spielberg.

He was accused of obtaining illegal access to stock and bank accounts belonging to billionaire investor Warren Buffett and the accounts of George Lucas, Oprah Winfrey, Ross Perot and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

At the time of his arrest in March last year, Abdallah had 800 fraudulent credit cards and 20,000 blank credit cards.

Police searches revealed "photographs, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and addresses of more than 200 CEOs and more than 400 credit card numbers with matching addresses and personal information", Reuters reports.

Addullah alleged drew up his hitlist of celebrity victims using a list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, published by Forbes.

The former trainee dishwasher then used this purloined information to open fraudulent on-line accounts at Merrill Lynch and Fidelity Investments in the name of various high-profile businessmen. His scheme was revealed as he allegedly attempted to transfer $80 million in funds from legitimate accounts into accounts he controlled using fraudulent wire transfers and counterfeit cheques.

Fraud investigators or the victims successfully stopped or reversed the requested transfers. ®

Related Stories

Identity Thefts from the Rich and Famous
Stomp the identity thieves

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
BlackEnergy crimeware coursing through US control systems
US CERT says three flavours of control kit are under attack
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.