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Vulnerabilities / Threats

Feds Get Guilty Plea From Operation Bot Roast

A 21-year-old bot herder faces 10 years and a $250,000 fine

Federal law enforcement agencies have received a guilty plea from one of the botmasters nabbed last year under Operation Bot Roast.

Robert Matthew Bentley, 21, of Panama City, Fla., has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and computer fraud, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Bentley, one of eight spammers and bot herders nabbed so far under the law enforcement initiative called Operation Bot Roast, reportedly agreed to a detailed factual summary filed at the time of his guilty plea outlining his role in the computer intrusions. Bentley and other unnamed co-conspirators are charged with infecting hundreds of computers in Europe with adware that cost tens of thousands of dollars to detect and neutralize.

Bentley and others received payment through a Western European-based operation called Dollar Revenue for unauthorized intrusions and placement of the adware, according to the U.S. Secret Service, which investigated the crime. Bentley used computers in the Northern District of Florida to accomplish the intrusions and to receive payment.

Bentley is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak on May 28, 2008. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release for each charge. He must also pay a special monetary assessment of $100 for each charge. Federal authorities say Bentley might get "special consideration" if he agrees to help convict his co-conspirators.

Bentley's is the second guilty plea that federal authorities have received from Operation Boast defendants this week. On Monday, Robert Soloway, a notorious "spam king," pleaded guilty to multiple charges and now faces up to 26 years in prison, according to reports.

"The identification, indictment, and conviction of Bentley constitutes a significant success in a complex international investigation, and resulted from the outstanding cooperation of the many participating law enforcement agencies," said U.S. Attorney Gregory Miller.

"The use of botnets is a major focus of computer-related criminal investigations worldwide," Miller said. "Botnets are responsible for much of the malicious activity conducted on the Internet. [Bot herders] operate within a group of computer hackers on a global scale, making this computer crime one of the most pervasive forms of organized criminal activity plaguing law enforcers in this country and abroad."

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Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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