Feeds

World's largest ID theft felon faces 14 years' jail

Help desk technician pleads guilty to $50m scam

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

A former New York computer help desk technician yesterday pleaded guilty to playing a key part in what prosecutors reckon is the largest identity theft case to date.

Philip Cummings, 35, pleaded guilty to conspiracy over his central role in a scam believed to have hit upwards of 30,000 victims and cost millions through fraudulent transactions. At the time of Cummings' November 2002 indictment, investigators had confirmed losses of more than $2.7m in connection racket. Losses from the racket - which ran for approximately three years - are now estimated to exceed $50m.

Cummings worked for Teledata Communications, which supplies software to link the systems of banks and credit reference agencies from mid-1999 until March 2000. He used this role to obtain confidential passwords and codes to download potential victims' credit reports before selling them on to crooks. Cummings was paid $30 for each report. The information he sold enabled criminals to impersonate victims and obtain fraudulent loans, access bank accounts and run up unauthorised credit card bills in their name. More than 15,000 credit reports were stolen from credit reference bureau Experian, using passwords belonging to Ford Motor Credit Corporation. The passwords and subscriber codes of Washington Mutual Bank in Florida and Washington Mutual Finance Company in Crossville, Tennessee were also compromised. Cummings used this information to download reports after he left Teledata and relocated from New York to Georgia.

The information sourced by Cummings fed a network of at least 20 ID fraudsters across the US, according to prosecutors. A number of people have already pleaded guilty to involvement in the scam while other case remain pending.

Reuters reports that Cummings could be jailed for at least 14 years and fined $1m after confessing to conspiracy, wire fraud and fraud offences in connection with his crimes. However he has a heart problem which might cause the authorities to impose a much more lenient sentence, it reports. Sentencing before US District Judge George Daniels has been set for 11 January 2005. ®

related stories

Feds break massive identity fraud
ID theft: a $1bn a year crime
150+ cuffed in US-led cybercrime crackdown
Spammer charged in huge Acxiom personal data theft
ID theft hits 10m Americans a year

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.