Feeds

Prison time for cyber stock swindler

Computer hacking and identity theft

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

A young investor with more wiles than trading luck was sentenced to 13 months in prison Wednesday for using a Trojan horse program and someone else's online brokerage account to sell thousands of worthless stock options to an unwilling buyer.

Van T. Dinh, 20, was the first to be charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with a fraud involving both computer hacking and identity theft, according to the SEC.

According to court records, last July, the then-teenaged Dinh was the unhappy owner of $90,000 in "put" options that could have delivered a hefty payoff if Cisco Systems Inc. stock drooped below $15.00 a share, but instead were close to expiring worthless.

Rather than eat the loss, Dinh constructed an electronic shell game to offload the contracts on a innocent dupe. Dinh built a list of targets by posting innocuous queries as "Stanley Hirsch" to a public forum on the trading discussion site stockcharts.com, and noting the email addresses of people who responded. The next day, using the alias "Tony T. Riechert," he spammed those addresses with an offer to participate in a beta test of a new stock charting tool.

The "stock charting tool" turned out to be a Trojan horse called "the Beast." An unsuspecting Westborough, Massachusetts investor - unnamed in the complaints - ran the program, and sometime thereafter accessed his online brokerage account with TD Waterhouse, while the Beast silently logged every keystroke. Dinh allegedly swept in later and downloaded the logs, obtaining the man's username and password.

A few days later, Dinh put his Cisco options up for sale at an inflated price through his own online broker, then used the purloined password to place a series of matching buy orders through the victim's account, "depleting almost all of the account's available cash," according to the SEC - approximately $47,000.

With the account drained, Dinh remained stuck with some of the Cisco contracts, which expired worthless on 19 July. But the scheme shaved his losses by $37,000 - the victim's $47,000, minus the broker's commission.

Dinh pleaded guilty in a federal court in Massachusetts to unauthorized access to a protected computer and securities fraud last February, and repaid the victim's lost $47,000. At his sentencing hearing Wednesday, prosecutors say they read aloud from an electronic diary purportedly found on Dinh's computer, including an entry dated a month before the crime.

"I am so proud of myself for my 'hacking business' - I will never regret what I did," Dinh allegedly wrote. "I am the best of the best Trickster. I laugh often when mom says she worries - what the [expletive] do you have to worry about. Even if I go to jail - big deal - I will learn something there. Hahaha."

Phone calls to Dinh's home and his attorney's office were not returned Thursday.

Copyright © 2004, SecurityFocus logo

Related stories

Brokerage hack teen charged
Stock spam scams ramping up
Teen charged in cyber stock scam
Feds slap cuffs on Google stock scammer
Hoaxster hacker discovers infinite-wealth algorithm
Trainee(!) dishwasher pleads guilty to $80m identity fraud

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
Bad PUPPY: Undead Windows XP deposits fresh scamware on lawn
Installing random interwebs shiz will bork your zombie box
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.