Feeds

Romanian phisher gets 50 month prison term

No credit for good grammar

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

A Romanian man has been sentenced to serve more than four years in US prison for taking part in a sophisticated phishing scam that cost financial institutions at least $150,000.

Ovidiu-Ionut Nicola-Roman, 23, of Craiova, Romania, received 50 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. In July, he pleaded guilty to a single felony count of conspiracy to commit fraud. He's the first foreign defendant to be convicted in the US for phishing offenses, as federal prosecutors were quick to point out in a sentencing memorandum to the judge hearing the case.

"The Court is therefore presented with a unique opportunity, to demonstrate that criminals overseas cannot conduct their phishing schemes with impunity, by imposing a Guidelines sentence on the defendant," they wrote.

An indictment filed in January 2008 accused Nicola-Roman and six other Romanians of running a well-organized operation that used a combination of social engineering and computer hacking to dupe recipients into divulging payment card numbers and other sensitive information. The suspects then withdrew money from the customers' bank accounts or made purchases using their debit cards, prosecutors allege.

In one episode, the defendants sent an email purporting to come from the Brattleboro Savings & Loan Ass'n that informed customers their online accounts were temporarily unavailable while administrators upgraded the bank's website. To give the claim credibility, the gang made the site inaccessible by unleashing a denial-of-service attack on it.

The email was notable because it contained good English usage and grammar, unlike many phishing come-ons. It 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 stolen social security numbers, bank account numbers, and other financial information using shared email accounts from Yahoo and Gmail. They then used the purloined information to access bank accounts and lines of credit to withdraw funds without authorization.

Nicola-Roman was located in Bulgaria and apprehended on an Interpol warrant in June 2007. He was extradited to the US the following November. The remaining suspects have yet to be apprehended. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.