An 81-year-old Frenchman has been given a one-year suspended jail sentence for firing a hunting rifle at helicopters dropping water on a forest blaze.
David Thiel opened fire on 21 July when the low-flying helicopters disturbed his afternoon nap near Grasse in the south of France, court sources said.
During his arrest the man swore at the policemen and hit them with saucepans.
A 23–year old man called Daniel A. Defelippi in the U.S. has pleaded guilty to three years of phishing and identity fraud, according to the the Democrat & Chronicle:
A Rochester man admitted Tuesday that he engaged in widespread identity theft, pilfering credit card numbers through fake Web sites and even collaborating with computer hackers in Eastern European countries.
So far there’s no more detail about the Eastern European angle, but attorneys are quoted as saying the fraud added up to about $400,000. Defelippi was arrested last December:
That arrest prompted a search of Defelippi’s Rochester-area business — Compumasters, at 3495 Winton Place — where the federal Secret Service unearthed evidence of a major identity-theft operation.
Among the items seized were devices to create counterfeit driver’s licenses and credit cards, and computers used to fabricate Web sites.
Defelippi, whose address was unavailable, admitted that he stole thousands of credit card numbers from unsuspecting people across the country.
It’s interesting to see how phishing and more traditional credit card fraud go hand in hand here, and how the phishing operation had a quite active U.S. end to it.
Is Russia finally getting serious about its virus writers?
Kaspersky Labs and F-Secure, two anti-virus manufacturers, report that Evgenii Suchkov (or Eugene Suchkov, sometimes known as Whale or Cityhawk) has been found guilty of writing two viruses, Stepar and Gastropod. Suchkov was sentenced in the Russian republic of Udmurtia, and while he was only fined 3,000 rubles ($100) — a sentence which has attracted some derision — Kaspersky’s analyst reckons now “Russian virus writers know that they are not always going to be able to hide from the law. And the world knows that Russia is doing something about virus writing”.
Suchkov, it appears, is no small fish. He’s believed to be a member of 29A, a notorious virus writing group, according to Kaspersky, which also believes he’s a member of the HangUp Team, a group I’ve tried to look more carefully at for their alleged role in phishing. Interestingly, a Czech member of 29A was recently recruited by a Czech software company, a move which has ignited some controversy, not least because it would appear to make virus writing a good way to prepare a CV for more legitimate work.
I tend to agree that hiring these guys might not be the best idea. Beyond the moral hazard issue — why should virus writers care about getting caught if they know it will lead to a job anyway? — there’s the issue of where this guy’s loyalties may lie. Is he going to try to stop his old buddies from doing their thing? Or tracking them down? And even if he did want to do good work for his new employer, he’s going to be a marked man for his former buddies who it’s believed, have active links to the Russian mafia.
The point to remember is that virus writing is now an industry, or sub-industry, of the criminal underworld. So no longer could one argue that these guys are just lonely geeks trying to get some attention. They do what they do for money, which means a virus, worm or trojan is a piece of code designed to do something specific. It’s probably done to order. If one of these virus writers is now working for the other side, I would hope his new employers take a good hard look at his motives: If he’s a good virus writer he could probably command significant amounts of money. Is he going to say goodbye to all that?
Finally, Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure suggests that there may also be traffic the other way. “F-Secure also has evidence which suggest that spammers have succesfully recruited anti-spam software developers to their side,” Hypponen says in a recent email. He points out that “spammers make money from their efforts; that’s why they can actually afford to invest in making their attacks better.” Anti-spammers going to the dark side? There must still be good money in it somewhere. I’ll try to find out more.
It seems that some of the ‘Russian mafia’ involved in phishing scams in Australia are being rounded up at last.
The Gold Coast Bulletin reported Saturday (no URL available, here’s the Google cache of the story) that police there have arrested two men, one a 21-year-old Moscow-born Sydney resident, and the other a “22-year-old Southport man, formerly from Belarus”, were arrested. Police say the first “was about to remove $10,000 from a personal account, and had earlier taken $8000 from a personal account” elsewhere.
Police say the two men had used a trojan to capture keystrokes and then access bank accounts of their victims. They didn’t say how many accounts they had accessed but said the “former Muscovite had opened 11 bank accounts – nine on the Gold Coast and two in Sydney.” I’m assuming these are done through third-parties: The newspaper says the scammers would “use Internet chat rooms until they found fellow-Russians living in Australia. “Then they ask the person if they will set up a bank account for them and they will deposit money into it. So then the scammer has a clean account to put cash into once they used the trojan to steal funds from other accounts.”
This is all pretty much as we expected, but it’s interesting it’s taken so long for the police to get these guys. The other interesting thing is the indication that it’s not so much the Russian Mafia, as Russian-speaking ad-hoc gangs that we’re talking about. Not so much organised crime as ad-hoc crime, as criminals seek out others with a similar background who may or may not be aware they’re doing something wrong.
Is the whole pay-per-click industry swamped by fraud?
WebProWorld says that Michael Bradley, recently arrested for trying to extort money from Google, is a wake up call to the PPC industry. He claimed to have developed software that would automatically click on Google ads, potentially costing both Google and their advertisers millions of dollars. (Here’s more on Bradley and his Google Clique software from InternetNews and SEOBook.)
As WPW point out, this could be just the tip of an iceberg, both in terms of what is already out there, and what could be out there. While it’s by no means clear how widespread it is, but the potential is strong: Why would companies want to pay for ads if they’re not convinced real people are clicking on them?
And if that happened — or if it’s already happened — what would happen to online advertising?
the Blaster internet worm. Jeffrey Lee Parson was arrested by the FBI in late August, and a Romanian man is believed to be assisting police with their enquiries. Meanwhile Simon Vallor, who served nine months in prison for creating three viruses, was released yesterday.