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Stole millions (allegedly)

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An Estonian man suspected of plundering millions from hundreds of online bank accounts accounts across Europe was arrested last week. AP reports that the unnamed 24 year-old allegedly used a sophisticated Trojan in order to monitor the keystrokes on victims' PCs and extract confidential banking passwords that allowed him to plunder online accounts.

The unnamed Trojan was bulk mailed to prospective victims in emails that promised lucrative job offers from government institutions, banks and investment firms. In reality it linked to a web page hosting malicious code.

Investigators reckon the suspect stole millions of euros from bank accounts in the Germany, Britain, Spain and the Baltic states. Aivar Pau, a spokesman for Estonia's central criminal police, said last week's arrest followed a year long investigation into what he described as the biggest case of online banking theft in Estonian history. The suspect faces fraud charges punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

Estonian police were aided in their investigation by IT specialists from Hansabank as well as Latvian and Lithuanian police. Jaan Priisalu, an IT risk manager at Hansabank, told AP the Trojan used in scam was the most sophisticated he had ever seen.

The use of malicious code and phishing scams to extract confidential account details from consumers have cost British banks approximately £12m in 2004, according to an estimate from banking group APACS published last month. APACS and UK police warn that the use of malicious code in such attacks in beginning to eclipse conventional phishing attacks in its severity. ®

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