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A Seattle man who admitted using file-sharing programs to pinch personal information on 50 people as part of an ID theft scam has been jailed for four years.

Gregory Kopiloff, 35, pleaded guilty to mail fraud, computer hacking and aggravated identity theft offences at a hearing before the US District Court in Seattle in November. As part of a plea bargaining agreement, prosecutors dropped a second aggravated ID theft rap, an offence punishable on conviction by a mandatory two years behind bars in addition to any other sentence a convict might face.

Kopiloff used the P2P file-sharing program LimeWire to download tax and credit reports, bank statements and student financial aid applications unwisely offered up for sharing from the PCs of his victims. He also used conventional dumpster diving and mail theft techniques to build profiles of his marks.

The crook used this data to obtain credit and debit cards under false names before running a $73,000 bill in fraudulent web purchases.

At a sentencing hearing on Monday, US District Judge James Robart jailed Kopiloff for four years and three months, to be followed by three years on probation. Kopiloff was also ordered to pay $70,000 in compensation to his victims.

The judge called Kopiloff "a highwayman in the virtual world," AP reports. "People were traveling by and he was able to seize their assets, their personal identity," he added. ®

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