Cybercrime Milestone: Guilty Verdict In RICO Case

Prosecutors use law designed to take down mobsters to fight online crime.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
12/13/2013 | 5:18:32 AM
Re: more RICO prosecutions?
Great question, and I'm following that up. This case prompts two bigger questions: Is the use of RICO appropriate for taking down people who -- for example in this case -- were smaller players? It was successfully used here, obviously, for, which functioned like an eBay for stolen IDs. That means the government has been able to indict everyone to which it successfully sold fake IDs via, thanks to its sting operation. Notably, however, the government failed to touch the actual admins, who according to some reports are in Russia.

The key part of this RICO case hinges on an undercover Secret Service agent, "Celtic," selling users fake IDs. Together with information gathered from the website (and we don't know to what extent the government may have infiltrated the site, beyond Celtic's storefront), the government was able to build its case.

Trying to apply RICO to a site of the Silk Road variety, however, would arguably be more difficult. The ATF's "Fast and Furious" guns sting operation got into hot water because the ATF lost track of the guns it was selling. Likewise, if the government tried to take down all of the users of a "darknet" narcotics-selling site, any undercover agent would need to appear to be trafficking in the real thing. Fake IDs, of course, aren't as much of a liability.

Long answer short: I'm not a lawyer, but according to ones I've spoken with, it looks like for this particular case, the stars lined up. In general, however, successfully applying RICO is -- and should remain -- tough, given the relatively harsh prison time and fines that can result.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/13/2013 | 5:07:39 AM
Re: In the US Grand Jury don't convect anyone
Thanks for the catch. Slip of the tongue. We'll get that fixed.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/12/2013 | 3:44:55 PM
In the US Grand Jury don't convect anyone
Grand Juries indite people they don't convect them.  They also don't find someone guilty.  The grand jury indites someone, then there is a trial, then the petite jury determains thier guilt or innocence.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/12/2013 | 1:34:32 PM
more RICO prosecutions?
Mat, do you think we'll see RICO used to go after more cybercrime?
User Rank: Apprentice
12/12/2013 | 1:25:36 PM
In this case, it's probably appropriate
A document forging racket is definitely a racket.  The statute can be abused, and sometimes has been to punish what amounts to seditious extremism or non-profit mischief; but for-profit criminal businesses were what the statute was designed to deter.

Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest September 7, 2015
Some security flaws go beyond simple app vulnerabilities. Have you checked for these?
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
Published: 2015-10-09
Simple Streams (simplestreams) does not properly verify the GPG signatures of disk image files, which allows remote mirror servers to spoof disk images and have unspecified other impact via a 403 (aka Forbidden) response.

Published: 2015-10-09
The Telephony component in Apple OS X before 10.11, when the Continuity feature is enabled, allows local users to bypass intended telephone-call restrictions via unspecified vectors.

Published: 2015-10-09
IcedTea-Web before 1.5.3 and 1.6.x before 1.6.1 does not properly sanitize applet URLs, which allows remote attackers to inject applets into the .appletTrustSettings configuration file and bypass user approval to execute the applet via a crafted web page, possibly related to line breaks.

Published: 2015-10-09
IcedTea-Web before 1.5.3 and 1.6.x before 1.6.1 does not properly determine the origin of unsigned applets, which allows remote attackers to bypass the approval process or trick users into approving applet execution via a crafted web page.

Published: 2015-10-09
The Safari Extensions implementation in Apple Safari before 9 does not require user confirmation before replacing an installed extension, which has unspecified impact and attack vectors.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
What can the information security industry do to solve the IoT security problem? Learn more and join the conversation on the next episode of Dark Reading Radio.