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Six Charged in AOL Phishing Scam

Department of Justice alleges fraud conspiracy by attackers in Connecticut

Six young men were charged yesterday with the operation of a phishing ring that stole credit card data and other personal information from AOL online services customers.

The men, all aged 22 or younger, have been operating the scam out of Connecticut and Florida for more than two years, according to Kevin O'Connor, U.S. District Attorney for the District of Connecticut.

According to the indictment, the defendants harvested the email addresses of "thousands" of AOL subscribers, then spammed them with fake emails that promised an electronic greeting card. When AOL subscribers opened the "cards," they were infected with a Trojan horse that then prevented them from going back onto AOL without giving personal information, including name, address, Social Security number, credit card numbers, bank account information, and personal identification numbers.

The defendants used the personal information to make counterfeit debit cards, which they used at ATM machines, online, and in retail stores to obtain money, goods, and services, according to the district attorney's office.

Three of the defendants pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to commit fraud; two of those defendants also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft. Sentencing is scheduled for December; the defendants could face up to 17 years in jail.

The West Haven police department was assisted by EarthLink's abuse team in finding the perpetrators, O'Connor said in a statement.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

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