Hackers start to feel long arm of law

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Global collaboration is paying off. David Quainton reports on the legal success

A surge of prosecutions for cybercrime took place last month, proving that international co-operation and legislation are starting to have an effect. The high-profile case of spammer Jeremy Jaynes was quickly followed by other prosecutions for phishing, virus writing and theft of source code.

"This is the result of long term capacity building and it is good to see," said Chris Painter deputy chief of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, US Department of Justice. "Criminals now realise there are consequences to their actions."

Anti-spamming legislation, such as CAN-SPAM, and an increase in international co-operation has helped towards a bumper month for crime-fighting organisations.

On 5 November, Jeremy Jaynes, a 30 year-old from North Carolina, was sentenced to nine years in prison for netting up to $750,000 a month sending junk emails. His was the first prosecution under the state of Virginia's tough new anti-spam legislation.

Days later, Australian 419 scammer Nick Marinellis, was jailed for four years on ten counts of fraud. Marinellis had fleeced his victims for thousands of dollars by convincing them that he had money in an African bank account.

Moroccan businessman Saad Echouafni even found himself on the FBI most wanted list. His crime was attempting to shut down competitors with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

"These arrests and prosecutions show that if people commit hi-tech crime, law enforcement will track them down," said Mick Deats, head of the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit.

Since January there has been a marked rise in cybercrime prosecutions. "We believe there have been more arrests in the past 12 months than the whole of the previous ten years," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at anti-virus firm Sophos.

The US Department of Justice said this was a direct result of global authorities working together.

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