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FBI charges 5 individuals in online banking scheme

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May 31, 2010

The FBI said this morning that it has filed charges against five individuals accused of trying to steal about $453,400 from a city in California using stolen login credentials associated with a bank account. The five people used online bank accounts to launder the stolen money shortly after it was siphoned out of an account belonging to the city of Carson in May 2007, according to the indictment.

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The individuals then allegedly withdrew money from the accounts and funnel it to unnamed co-conspirators.

The city bank account was breached using keylogging software that was installed on an official's laptop. The city was ultimately able to recover all but $44,000 of the misappropriated funds, but what's really troubling is that, more than three years later, city officials still don't know how the malware was installed or by whom.

Since the security breach, the city of Carson has greatly tightened its process for electronic transfers. Under its new system, no less than three city officials now receive notification of any online banking transaction using a combination of text messages, email and fax.

For now, FBI investigators "don't know if it was an email or a website that I clicked on" that installed the malware, said Carson treasurer Karen Avilla, whose machine was infected with the malware.

"That's the one issue that they have not been able to determine," she added.

The malware that targeted Avilla's computer was a variant of the Talex trojan. "That kind of ensures that a lot more eyes are looking at all of this," Avilla said.

The five individuals named in the indictment are: Jennifer Woodard, Deago Larase, Lance Holt, John Quinn and Anthony Bobbitt.

The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, where many of the suspects' bank accounts were actually located.

The five individuals have not yet appeared in court, FBI records indicate.

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Source: The FBI.

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