Cyber Fraud Manhunt – FBI’s Most Wanted List for Internet Crime Gets Five New Additions: Computer Crimes and Internet Fraud Very Profitable
This week, there’s lots of discussion in the news media about the Obamacare web site, and the revelation that standard procedures for testing the safety and security of the software for personal data being placed into the system by Americans seeking information at the Affordable Care Act site (healthcare.gov) were not followed. (For more, see the CBSNews investigation into the Obamacare site security concerns.)
For the past several months, there has been an increasing focus on the lack of security in using “cloud computing” not only for businesses like Amazon but for services like Google that provide email platforms for millions of people around the world. There are big questions about privacy and security for personal information stored in the cloud.
These two stories are just two examples of the known, real threat of computerized criminal activity in the 21st Century. The Internet has become a vital and necessary part of our life and culture, and with it has come new opportunities for things like theft and fraud.
The federal government (as well as the State of Texas) tries to keep up with ever-changing computer software upgrades and web services as well as new technology with laws and statutes that prohibit things like identity theft and credit card fraud. However, the computer remains one of the most popular methods for criminals to grab money as well as purchasing items under false identities or stolen credit card numbers.
Consider this: just this week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its new additions to the FBI’s Most Wanted List for Cyber Crime.
These five Most Wanted individuals are Farhan Arshad and Noor Aziz Uddin; Carlos Perez-Melara; Andrey Nabilevich Taame; and Alexsey Belan, and there are fat rewards being offered ($50,000 – $100,000) for information that will lead to an arrest of these men.
1. Farhan Arshad and Noor Aziz Uddin are wanted on allegations that they are part of an international telecommunications scheme that has already grabbed over $50 million in Internet theft and cyber fraud between 2008 and 2012. According to the FBI, Arshad and Uddin are part of a global crime ring that hacks into telephone systems and then places calls to premium rate phone numbers, with the telephone systems then being billed for the services. They face charges of unauthorized access to a protected computer; conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer; wire fraud; conspiracy to commit wire fraud; and identity theft.
Who knows when or if these two men will be captured by the FBI, though: they are both Pakistani nationals who were arrested once already in Malaysia after being tracked down by Interpol, and efforts by the FBI to extradite them back to the USA from Malaysia failed. They were released by the Malaysian authorities in July 2012.
2. Carlos Perez-Melara is alleged to have had a website (LoverSpy) that marketed itself to people who wanted to “catch a cheating lover” and when the person signed up for the site’s services, at a cost of $89.00, an e-card (electronic greeting card) was then sent to their suspected “cheating lover” which had “spyware” hidden in the e-card. Once the “lover” opened the e-card, the spyware went into action and put a hidden program on the lover’s hard drive that tracked every keystroke made on that computer (among other things). This allowed Perez-Melara and his cohorts the ability to grab passwords, etc., from the “lover” via the keystrokes while the LoverSpy clientele were able to read company reports on their “lover’s” web activity.
LoverSpy technology was so advanced that it was able to access and turn on the “lover’s” webcam, as well. Perez-Melara is facing federal charges of manufacturing a surreptitious interception device; sending a surreptitious interception device; advertising a surreptitious interception device; advertising and promoting the surreptitious use of an interception device; intercepting electronic communications; disclosing electronic communications; and unauthorized access to a protected computer for financial gain.
Perez-Melara was only 25 years old when he was indicted by the federal government on these internet fraud charges back in 2005; his federal indictment is known as one of the first criminal indictments of a “spyware” software manufacturer. Victims of LoverSpy (the “lovers” who were spied upon) are all over the country – here in Texas, as well as in California, Hawaii, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
3. Syrian national Andrey Nabilevich Taame is wanted for his participation in a notorious international malware, internet fraud scheme. Operation Ghost Click was a huge international investigation into a very big Internet criminal enterprise, where malware was used to reroute people to sites where the hijackers would get a referral fee in a “click-jacking” fraud scheme that brought them millions in profits over a 4 year time period.
Operation Ghost Click ran from 2007 to October 2011 discovering over half a million victims here in the United States and over 4,000,000 victims around the world. Operation Ghost Click investigations revealed that the scheme worked by gaining access to personal computers, infecting them with malware called “DNSChanger,” which changed the domain name settings (Domain Name System (DNS)), allowing them to re-route the computers to websites of their choosing which paid them for each online hit on that site. Taame faces federal charges of wire fraud; unauthorized access to a protected computer; and conspiracy to commit both offenses.
4. Russian Alexsey Alekseyevich Belan is alleged to have gained access to computer networks of various businesses over the past two years (2012 – 2013) to grab employee information for his own profit and gain. Belan faces federal charges of obtaining information from a protected computer; possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices; and aggravated identity theft.
The FBI wants Belan bad — the reward offered for information leading to his arrest is $100,000. From the FBI’s Wanted Poster on Alexsey Belan (aka Aleksei Belan, Aleksey Belan, Aleksey Alexseyevich Belan, Aleksey Alekseyevich Belan, Alexsei Belan, Abyr Valgov, “Abyrvaig”, “Fedyunya”, “Magg”, “M4G”, “Moy.Yawik”):
Between January of 2012, and April of 2013, Alexsey Belan is alleged to have intruded the computer networks of three major United States-based e-commerce companies in Nevada and California. He is alleged to have stolen their user databases which he then exported and made readily accessible on his server. Belan allegedly stole the user data and the encrypted passwords of millions of accounts and then negotiated the sales of the databases.
Two separate federal arrest warrants for Belan have been issued. One was issued on September 12, 2012, in the United States District Court, District of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, after Belan was charged with obtaining information by computer from a protected computer; possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices; and aggravated identity theft. The second warrant was issued on June 6, 2013, in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Francisco, California, after Belan was charged with two counts of fraud in connection with a computer and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
For more on Cyber Crime or Internet Fraud, check out our web resources page on Identity Theft and Identity Fraud, as well as Wire Fraud, detailing federal criminal law on these matters and including federal law defenses to these kinds of charges.
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