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Six charged in $10m Ingram computer fraud

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A Romanian man and five Americans were indicted yesterday by a California Grand Jury over an alleged $10m computer fraud. The gang is accused of fraudulently obtaining a small fortune in computer equipment after breaking into Ingram Micro's online ordering system.

Calin Mateias, 24, from Bucharest, is suspected of cracking into Ingram's system and posing as a legitimate customer to place more than 2,000 bogus orders over a period of four years. PCs and other equipment were shipped to Romania or to people in the US who sold equipment on Mateias' behalf. According to court paper, Mateias established this criminal distribution channel by recruiting unscrupulous people in Internet chat rooms.

Mateias was charged in his absence with conspiracy and 13 counts of mail fraud. Ingram is reassuring its resellers that its systems are now secure.

According to Romanian IT security firm BitDefender, between 1989 and 2002 Romanian teenagers were drawn to hacking, carding and other forms of cyber crime, due largely to the absence of a proper legal framework in the country. Many cybercrimes were reported reported by local media and authorities, but no action was taken because of the absence of relevant laws. Crackers came to think they could act with impunity in the east European country.

That changed when the country introduced tough cybercrime laws two years ago. If convicted by a Romanian court, Mateias could face up to 15 years in prison and hefty fines. ®

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