Two Romanians to face phishing charges in US

A third Romanian was convicted earlier this year

The U.S. Department of Justice has extradited two Romanians to the U.S., where they face charges in connection with a massive phishing scam.

The two men, Petru Belbita, 25, and Cornel Tonita, 28, are accused of setting up fake phishing sites designed to steal user names and passwords from the Web customers of Citibank, Wells Fargo, eBay and other financial institutions.

Victims would receive e-mails or text messages that looked like they came from legitimate financial institutions, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Aveis. "You'd of course freak out and be concerned that your account was under attack," he explained. "You'd click a link and that link would take you to what you thought was a legitimate [bank] site."

In fact it was a fake site. And once the phishers had this information, they'd send it to U.S.-based "cashiers," who would manufacture fake ATM cards with the information. They would then hand over those cards to "runners" who would go from ATM to ATM withdrawing money.

The Romanians preferred to work with runners located in the U.S. because they had more ATMs to choose from, Aveis said.

The phishers and the cashiers would meet in online "carder" Web sites to buy and sell stolen IDs, Aveis said.

A third alleged co-conspirator, Ovidiu-Ionut Nicola-Roman, also of Romania, became the first foreign national convicted in the U.S. of phishing. He was sentenced to more than four years in prison in March.

All of the charges stem from a May 2008 phishing sweep by U.S. authorities that led to charges against about 40 people, all with ties to international organized crime, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. More than half of those involved in the alleged conspiracy are still at large, most of them in Romania, the DoJ said.

Cyber security experts say that Romania has been a top source of phishing for the better part of the past decade. In 2006 the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's Cyber Division dispatched six FBI agents to Bucharest to work with Romanian National Police. Last year the FBI conducted two phishing crackdowns, including the May 2008 action that led to Belbita's and Tonita's charges.

The two men now face more than 30 years in prison on the charges.

Belbita was arrested in Montreal on Jan. 24 and extradited to the U.S. on Friday. Tonita was arrested in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on July 18 and extradited on Sept. 4. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Tags securityphishing

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?