Media overloads with fishing analogies in Operation Phish Phry reports

Written by Dan Blacharski on October 13, 2009

FishThe FBI, depending on the news story you read, either “netted,” “snared,” “hooked,” “reeled in” or “lured” a huge number of cybercriminals in a massive phishing investigation. We’ll resist the temptation to add to the trend by referring to the FBI as “fishing for phishers,” although we may reserve the right to wonder aloud at “the one that got away.”

This week, the FBI announced that a multinational investigation, conducted both in the US and Egypt, resulted in 53 defendants being indicted in the US, and 47 more charged in Egypt, for an even hundred, which according to Computerworld, is the largest number of people ever charged with the same cybercrime. Looks like they “bagged their limit.” Of the 53 US defendants, 33 have already been arrested.

The joint investigation actually got underway in 2007, when FBI agents went to work with banks to “identify and disrupt” criminal phishing rings that targeted the financial services industry. During the course of the investigation, information gleaned by the FBI led them to enter into a joint agreement with Egyptian authorities, when it quickly became clear that the scope of the criminal enterprise was international.

According to court records, hackers in Egypt were able to use phishing techniques to obtain bank account numbers and other personal information from banking customers. The phishing techniques weren’t anything new—it simply involved the old tried and true method of an email message that was disguised to appear as though it was from a bank or credit card company, asking people to click on a link or log onto a phony web page and enter their account details. Members of the criminal enterprise then were able to hack into accounts and transfer funds online. It was apparently quite a sophisticated operation, and included “runners” who set up bank accounts in banks to hold the stolen money, and allow it to be easily withdrawn. The US-based conspirators then wire transferred a portion of the ill-gotten gains to their Egyptian counterparts as payment.

On the US side, each defendant was charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and will face a maximum penalty of 20 years.

Kudos to the US and Egyptian authorities for their work on this one. Ultimately though, removing this one particular crime ring certainly won’t be fishing out the stream any time soon, and phishing is still going strong. We still need to be on guard, and there are still something along the lines of 50,000 phishing web sites, and those are just the ones that have been detected by the Anti-Phishing Working Group.

Comments

John Mello October 13, 2009

It will be interesting to see how severely this school of phishermen will be punished. In 2005, a UK pair of electronic anglers were sentenced–one for six years, the other for four–for laundering $10.3 million in today’s U.S. dollars for their felonious endeavors. In 2008, a West Haven, Conn. man was hit with a seven year prison sentence for bilking $400,000 from AOL uses with a phishing scam. And earlier this year, a Minneapolis judge slapped a phisher with an 8.5 year expense free vacation in the Big House for a phishing con that garnered the perp $700,000 over a seven year period. Although sentencing appears to be all over the board, I can’t see the members of this crew getting–at least in the United States–less than eight years a piece for their crooked behavior.

Silah February 10, 2011

It will be interesting to see how severely this school of phishermen will be punished. In 2005, a UK pair of electronic anglers were sentenced–one for six years, the other for four–for laundering $10.3 million in today’s U.S. dollars for their felonious endeavors. In 2008, a West Haven, Conn. man was hit with a seven year prison sentence for bilking $400,000 from AOL uses with a phishing scam. And earlier this year, a Minneapolis judge slapped a phisher with an 8.5 year expense free vacation in the Big House for a phishing con that garnered the perp $700,000 over a seven year period. Although sentencing appears to be all over the board, I can’t see the members of this crew getting–at least in the United States–less than eight years a piece for their crooked behavior.

jack May 24, 2011

Although sentencing appears to be all over the board, I can’t see the members of this crew getting–at least in the United States–less than eight years a piece for their crooked behavior.

sherif June 16, 2011

good post

2el esya September 16, 2011

It will be interesting to see how severely this school of phishermen will be punished. In 2005, a UK pair of electronic anglers were sentenced–one for six years, the other for four–for laundering $10.3 million in today’s U.S. dollars for their felonious endeavors. In 2008, a West Haven, Conn. man was hit with a seven year prison sentence for bilking $400,000 from AOL uses with a phishing scam. And earlier this year, a Minneapolis judge slapped a phisher with an 8.5 year expense free vacation in the Big House for a phishing con that garnered the perp $700,000 over a seven year period. Although sentencing appears to be all over the board, I can’t see the members of this crew getting–at least in the United States–less than eight years a piece for their crooked behavior.

Home Inspection Software March 26, 2012

It’s amazing how many scams and garbage we get bombarded with every day. I always get paypal and bank emails claiming to be legit but really wanting personal information. If you’re not savvy with this stuff you can really be taken advantage of.

ben September 23, 2012

this is a very good post, please keep it up!

Sean Heideman October 16, 2012

This is an excellent post. I find the information on your site to be very valuable. Thank you for your great articles.

Rea Bolinder December 11, 2012

cool.

Marna Savitsky June 10, 2013

The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it does not disappoint me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read, but I genuinely thought you would probably have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something that you can fix if you weren’t too busy seeking attention.

Rocco Cooper September 16, 2013

I can’t point to any theory but it seems to me that any physical measure bounded on one side (at zero) and unbounded on the other would tend to be skew, especially if the mean is only a few standard deviations from zero.

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