Feeds

Romanian phisher confesses to scam targeting financial giants

Scammer faces five years in slammer

Reducing security risks from open source software

A Romanian man has admitted he took part in a sophisticated phishing scam that targeted PayPal and at least nine other financial institutions by tricking their customers into giving up their account credentials.

Ovidiu-Ionut Nicola-Roman, 22, of Craiova, Romania, pleaded guilty in federal court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, although prosecutors agreed to recommend a reduced sentence if he complies with the terms of his plea agreement.

In an indictment filed in January, Nicola-Roman and six other Romanians were accused of running a well-organized operation that involved a combination of social engineering and computer hacking. An email purporting to come from the Brattleboro Savings & Loan Ass'n, for instance, informed customers their online accounts were temporarily unavailable while administrators upgraded the system.

To give the claim credibility, the gang disabled the bank's website by unleashing a denial-of-service attack. The email, which contained good English usage and grammar, went on to say accounts would be automatically deleted unless customers accessed a secure online database and confirmed their account details.

Other financial institutions targeted by the attackers included PayPal, Capital One, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Comerica Bank, LaSalle Bank, US Bank, Wells Fargo and People's Bank.

The gang stored the purloined social security numbers, bank account numbers and other financial information using a series of shared email accounts from Yahoo and Gmail. They then used the information to access bank accounts and lines of credit to withdraw funds without authorization. The scheme defrauded one institution of $150,000, according to authorities. They didn't detail damages to other victims.

Romania has emerged as a hotbed for online crime. Last week, Romanian police arrested some two-dozen people alleged to have raked in an estimated €400,000 ($634,000) by engaging in various identity theft, credit card and auction fraud scams. Targets of the scams reportedly included eBay, craiglist.com and Equine.com, or people using those services.

Vladuz, the notorious hacker who repeatedly accessed off-limits parts of eBay's network and then publicly bragged about it, also hailed from Romania.

Nicola-Roman was located in Bulgaria and apprehended on an Interpol warrant in June 2007. He was extradited to the US three months later. The remaining suspects remain at large. Sentencing for Nicola-Roman is scheduled for October 10. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.