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Phish Buyer Gets Hooked

Credit card forger gets seven years for making use of data he bought in an IRC forum

This time, it wasn't the identity thief who went to jail, but the guy who bought the thieves' stolen booty.

Jacob Vincent Green-Bressler, 21, of Tucson, Ariz., last week was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in defrauding credit card customers. An Arizona District Court judge gave Green-Bressler 84 months on two felony counts, including aggravated identity theft.

Unlike other recent identity theft convictions around the U.S., however, Green-Bressler was not convicted of stealing or selling identities collected online, but of buying and using them.

"Green-Bressler solicited and was supplied with stolen credit and debit card account information of U.S. banking customers from individuals located in foreign countries," according to a statement by the Office of the U.S. District Attorney in Arizona. "Green-Bressler obtained this debit and credit account information by visiting Internet Relay Chat rooms and forums run by these suppliers."

IRC forums are the most common marketplace for buying and selling stolen information, experts say. But until now, law enforcement usually targeted the sellers and operators of these forums, rather than the buyers. (See Malware: Serious Business.)

Using data he bought from phishers, pharmers, and spammers, Green-Bressler collected account numbers, PINs, algorithms, and proprietary information related to the customer's account, such as the card's verification value, expiration dates, passwords, and Social Security numbers, the Attorney General's office said.

"This information is required in order to produce a workable format to be encoded onto counterfeit credit cards," according to the report.

Green-Bressler then used software to format and encode the credit card information onto plastic cards with magnetic strips, then used the fake cards to withdraw money from ATMs and ACMs around Tucson. In one case, Green-Bressler and two co-defendants got $148,000 from an ACM at the Casino Del Sol.

After they got the money, Green-Bressler and his co-defendants transferred about half of the money back to the overseas phishers and pharmers, the Attorney General's office said.

At the scam's peak, Green-Bressler and his partners held more than 4,500 illegal credit and debit account numbers and pins, and wired more than $300,000 overseas.

In addition to serving seven years, Green-Bressler was ordered to make restitution to the victim banks, forfeit the proceeds of the offenses, and serve a three-year term of supervised release.

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