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Convicted Trojan author in new hacking charge

Back before the beak

A former hacker who went to prison as a teenager over a stock-trading scam is back in trouble with the law.

Van T. Dinh, 25, was charged with two counts of computer hacking last Friday over accusations he hacked into an online currency exchange service before allegedly attempted to transfer $110,000 to an account under his control. The alleged transfers were made in two batches days apart in December 2008, after Dinh had allegedly broken into the firm's admin systems. He's further accused of using this privileged access in attempting currency trades involving two other third-party customer accounts, and of trying to transfer $140,000 into one of these accounts.

FBI investigators traced the fraudulent transaction attempts back to the Pennsylvanian home Dinh shares with his mother. Although the attempted scam cost its unnamed victim $5,000 in restoration and recovery costs the fraud was detected before any money was actually transferred.

Dinh's previous brush with the law also involved online trading accounts.

He was jailed for 13 months in 2004 after he was convicted of hacking into an account run by a fellow stock trader to buy a variety of worthless stock derivatives he had got stuck with the year before, while working as a 19 year-old stock trader. The tactic made Dinh the first person to be charged with both computer hacking and identity theft offences, Wired reports. The junior trader created a Trojan horse program that posed as a stock-tracking tool.

When his victim used the tool he handed over access to a trading account. Dinh used this access to sell on Cisco "put" options that were about to expire, shaving his potential losses of $90,000 by $37,000 in the process.

Dinh has been held on remand pending further hearings, partly over fears he might hack into other systems if released. ®

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