Feeds

Romanian phisher confesses to scam targeting financial giants

Scammer faces five years in slammer

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Google recommends pronounceable passwords
Super Chrome goes into battle with Mr Mxyzptlk
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Reddit wipes clean leaked celeb nudie pics, tells users to zip it
Now we've had all THAT TRAFFIC, we 'deplore' this theft
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
TorrentLocker unpicked: Crypto coding shocker defeats extortionists
Lousy XOR opens door into which victims can shove a foot
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
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 for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.