AOL phisher pleads guilty in ID theft scheme

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AOL phisher pleads guilty in ID theft scheme

A 23-year-old man accused of sending spam and phishing emails that targeted AOL subscribers pleaded guilty on Wednesday in a US court, the country's Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.

Michael Dolan from Florida agreed to plead guilty to a pair of criminal counts brought against him by the US attorney in Connecticut. One count charges him with conspiracy to commit fraud, the second with aggravated identity theft.

From 2002 to 2006, Dolan worked with several other unidentified individuals to steal names, credit card and bank account numbers via spam and phishing emails sent to AOL subscribers.

Dolan's scheme employed malicious software to collect AOL account names from chat rooms. He then sent electronic greeting cards purporting to be from Hallmark.com to AOL users; opening the card downloaded a trojan that prevented AOL subscribers from logging into their account without entering personal information, such as credit card details.

Dolan used the harvested information to order products online and produce counterfeit debit cards, which were then used at ATM machines and retail stores. On 26 September 2006, Dolan was caught with the private and financial information of 96 individuals, according to the DOJ.

The plea agreement calls for Dolan to spend 84 months in prison, then remain on supervised probation for two to three years, and pay a fine of US$250,000 (£125,200), plus other fees. Dolan must also make restitution to victims, including covering loss of income.

He is scheduled to be sentenced 14 November.
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