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AOL ID thief faces 7 years

Trojan powered scam man heads for slammer

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A 23 year-old faces up to seven years imprisonment after pleading guilty to targeting AOL members via an elaborate and long running phishing scam.

Michael Dolan, formerly of West Haven, Connecticut and North Miami Beach, Florida, admitted stealing names, credit card details and social security numbers from AOL members. He pleaded guilty this week to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft as part of a plea bargaining agreement with US prosecutors.

From 2002 until 2006, Dolan used unspecified software to steal AOL screen names from chat rooms. He then sent Trojan horse malware disguised as electronic greeting cards from Hallmark to these prospective marks. The malicious software prevented users with infected machines from logging onto their accounts without giving out personal information, including credit card numbers and social security details. Dolan and his partners in crime used this harvested data to make fraudulent online purchases. The details were also used to make up counterfeit cards which were used to steal money from ATMs and make purchases at petrol stations and the like.

It's unclear how much Dolan and his unidentified cohorts made via the scam.

The scheme was unearthed after an investigation involving West Haven Police Department and US ISP EarthLink’s abuse team. Following his guilty plea, Dolan faces up to five years in jail for fraud and a further mandatory two years imprisonment for aggravated ID theft. He also faces probation following his release and fines of up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing before US District Judge Alvin W. Thompson is scheduled for 14 November.

Dolan's previous form counted against him. Dolan was put on probation for two years in May 2004 after pleading guilty to hacking offences. He failed to keep appointments with his probation officer, made numerous trips out of Connecticut without permission, including at least one trip overseas. Dolan was jailed for nine months in April 2006 for violating the terms of his probation.

A DoJ statement on the case can be found here. ®

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