Cybercrime purge: Authorities net Nigerian scammer, Web hoaxer and identity thief

Looks like these guys picked a bad week to commit cyber crimes.

First we have an arrest of one of those annoying Nigerian "please help me with my inheritance" email scammers. Canadian police today arrested a Toronto man, who police described as a Nigerian refugee who they have charged with several fraud-related offences, including fraud over $5,000 and possession of goods obtained by crime.

He is custody after he allegedly duped a Winnipeg senior citizen out of more than $30,000, police said. Police said the 84-year-old man was inundated with e-mails and phone calls from Toluwalade Owolabi that pressured him to wire $37,500 to receive a $1.5 million inheritance as part of a scam.

The Nigerian or West African e-mail scam is arguably the most common email scam, experts say.

Canadian police are very happy with the arrest saying most people have received e-mails that pitch far-fetched scenarios and offer outrageous sums of money, but these types of fraud cases are tough to solve because scammers use a variety of untraceable means - web-based e-mail accounts, wire transfers and pay-as-you-go cellphones, for example. Arrests are extremely rare.

So we leave Canada for good old US cybercrime for Cristobal Gonzalez who was sentenced this week for "Making Threatening Communications." You see Gonzalez thought he'd drum up a little attention for his online business by basically threatening to kill students at San Diego State University the day after the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech on April 16.

On the Web site Gonzalez' posted: "Hungry for sheep... I'm sick and tired of this world. People are stupid and pathetic sheep. Jesus said you were all sheep. I am the wolf. I am hungry! With my colt I'll ride to school on Thursday morning and save 50 of your pathetic souls... like my brethen (sic) did yesterday! MOCK (sic) MY WORDS! You will know the sign for it will be written on the wall with blood! I am the son of man.... I will have my vengence (sic). Warning to all SDSU students!"

For his "hoax, " as he called it, Gonzalez received six-months custody and a $1,500.00 fine. The judge also sentenced Gonzalez to serve a 3-year term of supervised release, perform 150 hours of community service, and - get this - complete a business ethics course. Lets hope he rethinks his business plans.

Then we have the identity theft specialist known as the "Iceman," or "Max Vision." Max Butler of San Francisco, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on three counts of wire fraud and two counts of transferring stolen identity information. He could face up to 40 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine if convicted on all charges. Maybe we shouldn't call him a specialist though - since Butler he served time nine years ago for hacking government and military computers. Prison must be nicer the second time around.

According to the indictment, Butler hacked multiple computer networks of financial institutions and card processing firms, sold the account and identity information he stole from those systems, and even received a percentage of the money that others made selling merchandise they'd purchased with the stolen card numbers.

The indictment alleges that Butler, using the online alias "Iceman," was associated with Internet sites known for illegal carding activity. Specifically, the indictment alleges Butler to be the co-founder and administrator of "CardersMarket," a notorious carding website. According to the indictment, Butler sold tens of thousands of credit card numbers belonging to others through websites such as CardersMarket, a virtual "safe haven" for those involved in the theft, use and sale of credits cards and other personal information, the Secret Service said in a statement.

Finally, I wrote about this one earlier in the week. In case you missed it: A Las Vegas man faces about 20 years in prison today after he agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud for impersonating an intellectual property lawyer and threatening lawsuits against the owners of Internet domain names. According to the FBI, David Scali is charged with registering an e-mail account under an alias and then sending e-mails in which he claimed to be the intellectual property lawyer. In the e-mails, which were sent in late June and early July of 2006, Scali threatened to file $100,000 trademark infringement lawsuits against the owners of various Internet website names unless they gave up their domain name registrations within two days.


Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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