Feeds

Romanian national cops to $700,000 phishing trip

Who's your underworld Popa?

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

A 22-year-old Romanian national has admitted he participated in a US-based phishing operation that raked in some $700,000 over a three-year period.

Sergiu Daniel Popa, who for the past seven years has lived in New York and Michigan, pleaded guilty in federal court in Minneapolis to two felonies related to the scheme. He faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $500,000. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

According to Popa's plea agreement, the scheme snagged the identities of 7,000 individuals who suffered a net loss of about $700,000. When his house was searched earlier this year, authorities found a machine for imprinting graphics on blank plastic cards, foil ribbons for making holographic images that appear on finished cards, blank cards, and partially created fraudulent drivers' licenses.

Investigators also recovered "tens of thousands" of email addresses in his Yahoo email account that he kept for the purpose of sending phishing emails that tried to trick the recipient into divulging sensitive information, such as their bank account numbers.

Like many online criminals, Popa was infused with a strong sense of impunity and hubris, court documents suggest.

"Listen up," he wrote to one associate in a January 2005 email. "I am a accredited [sic] vendor in underworld. I have many scams, shop admins, and many full info credit cards. I can also pull up credit reports and cash out ATMs. I charge for my services but I am a great provider of everything."

Popa also possessed pre-built websites spoofing the online destinations of multiple financial institutions, such as PayPal, SunTrust Bank, and CitiBank, according to an affidavit filed in the case. He offered to sell phishing kits with step-by-step instructions for $1,500 and software and hardware capable of counterfeiting credit cards.

According to the affidavit, Popa was sentenced to 71 days in jail in Michigan in 2006 after being charged for using a hijacked eBay account to defraud someone into paying $1,448 for an item that didn't exist.

FBI agents began their investigation of Popa in early 2005. He was charged in a sealed criminal complaint in February. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.