Computer Crime Research Center


33 charged in cyber crime bust

Date: July 27, 2008
By: Katie Scott

American investigators have found and now charged members of an international phishing gang.

The most recent to face the judge is Romanian Ovidiu-Ionut Nicola-Roman, 22, of Craiova.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud with access devices in a US District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Six other Romanians were also charged for their parts in a phishing scam that took place in January 2007.

But a total of 38 people are accused overall of being part of an international crime ring that allegedly used spam emails to steal bank account details and passwords from thousands of customers, in attacks spanning much longer than just 1 month.

The investigation into the gang stemmed from a complaint concerning a fraudulent email message made to appear as if it originated from Connecticut-based People's Bank.

Investigators found that the message actually directed victims to a computer in Minnesota that had been hacked and used to host a counterfeit the bank's internet site.

Investigators say the gang used similar tactics against Citibank, Capital One, JPMorgan, Comerica Bank, Wells Fargo, eBay and PayPal.

The Department of Justice says the gang unleashed more than 1.3 million spam emails in one phishing attack.

Nicola-Roman was also part of another scam scheme involving 33 people and was charged by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles in a 65-count indictment.

Nicola-Roman was arrested on an Interpol warrant in June 2007 in Bulgaria, and is scheduled to be sentenced in October.

He faces a maximum prison term of 5 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

And he still faces similar charges in California.

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