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Connecticut phisher gets 7 years in jail


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August 18, 2008

Last week, Michael Dolan was sentenced to seven years in jail for masterminding a phishing scam targeting AOL members. Dolan is a Connecticut resident and was arrested in 2006.

He was also ordered to serve three years' probation time after his release.

In 2007, Dolan pleaded guilty to fraud and aggravated identity theft offences as part of a plea bargaining agreement. Normally this should have counted in his favor but Dolan received a harsh sentence anyway because of his alleged conduct while awaiting trial.

Between 2002 and 2006, Dolan's confederates used unspecified hacking tools to harvest AOL screen names from chat rooms. These AOL members were then targeted for attack, commonly using emails posing as electronic greeting cards from Hallmark, which were actually loaded with Trojan horse malware.

Infected users were prevented from logging on normally and steered towards a bogus site run by Dolan and five of his accomplices.

Locked-out users were prompted to hand over financially sensitive information and other personal information, including credit card details and social security numbers. Dolan and his people then used the information to make fraudulent online purchases of high-ticket items such as gaming consoles or laptops, or to create counterfeit credit cards.

Prosecutors say that Dolan's criminal network gained more than $400,000 from 250 or more victims during the four year course of the scam.

Additionally, Dolan spammed AOL members with fake messages that posed as email from AOL's billing department, claiming that their credit card data had been lost and needed to be resubmitted, again to the same bogus site that featured in the lock-out scam.

To make matters worse, Dolan even attempted to bribe a co-defendant, persuaded his girlfriend to submit false testimony and threatened a witness. These claims added to the sentencing. Prosecutors say that Dolan was distraught and making poor decisions following his father's suicide.

Prior to the AOL phishing charges, Dolan was sentenced to two years' probation in May 2004 for various hacking offences but wound up receiving a nine-month sentence in 2006 after he was found guilty of violating the terms of his supervision order.

Keith Riedel, another defendant in the case, is due to be sentenced Aug. 20.

A Department of Justice statement on the sentencing will follow after that but for now we can only refer back to a backgrounder published after Dolan pleaded guilty in August 2007.

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Source: IT Direction.


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