Remember LulzSec, the jolly jackasses responsible for so much hacking havoc last summer? So does the FBI; they've rounded up five alleged LulzSec members in the U.S., England and Ireland this morning. LulzSec's 50 day reign of terror almost seemed story-like at times -- and like many good yarns, this one ends with a twist. Reports say the Lulz Boat has sunk thanks to the betrayal of "Sabu," the group's unofficial leader, who has been secretly working with the government since being arrested back in June.
When geeks get ahold of a 3D printer, they immediately start drooling over the prospect of custom-made Warhammer figures and replica BFGs. When crooked geeks get ahold of a 3D printer, they apparently start scheming up ways to bilk normal folks out of their money. Federal prosecutors say a ring of four individuals did just that when they used the nifty devices to create realistic-looking ATM skimmers to steal the debit card info – and soon thereafter, money – of Texas citizens.
According to a report in the U.K.'s Guardian, a 29-year-old British man will spend two years behind bars for hacking Zynga and stealing 400 billion virtual gaming chips. Ashley Mitchell made off with more than $11 million in chips by muscling his way into Zynga's mainframe and stealing the identity of two employees before transferring the chips to his own account. It almost worked.
Julian Assange will have to spend at least another 24 hours behind bars as he awaits an appeal against the decision to grant him bail, Yahoo News reports.
The Wikileaks founder voluntarily turned himself in to Swedish authorities last week over a sex-crimes warrant that Assange says is nothing more than a smear campaign. He spent a week in jail before a judge ordered him released on $316,000 bail, a notion that was challenged by Swedish prosecutors.
"Somebody has it in for Julian Assange and we can only conjecture why," Mark Stephens, an attorney for Assange, said today.
Despite conspiracy theories that a larger force is at play here, Swedish prosecutors maintain that "this is not a case about WikiLeaks, rather a case about alleged serious offenses against two women."
WikiLeaks has come under intense scrutiny recently following the publication of thousands of classified U.S. documents and sensitive diplomatic cables sent between U.S. embassies.
A 27-year-old Venezuelan convicted of pillaging and subsequently reselling more than 10 million VoIP minutes has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Edwin Pena's VoIP bootlegging operation depended on good old brute force attacks for its success, of which he and his accomplices had plenty, managing to force their way through more than 15 networks belonging to various telecom and VoIP companies.
Pena used compromised networks to reroute VoIP calls he sold to businesses at heavily discounted prices. His unsuspecting clients took his operation for a legitimate business. Before he became the first man to be indicted by U.S. authorities for VoIP hacking, he had robbed his victims of more than $1.4 million.
Officially, it's called the Assault Intervention Device, and what it does is fire off a focused, non-lethal beam of energy at the target, which in this case will be inmates trading blows with each other. But even though it's not a deadly laser, prison officers describe the sensation as "excruciatingly painful."
"We hope that this type of technology will either cause an inmate to stop an assault or lessen the severity of an assault by them being distracted by the pain as a result of the beam," said Bob Osborne, Commander of the Sheriff's Department of Technology Exploration Program. "I equate it to opening an oven door and feeling that blast of hot air, except instead of being all over me, it's more focused.
"And you begin to feel this warming feeling, and then you go 'Yow, I need to get out of the way,'" Osborne added.
Plans are in place to mount the device on the ceiling at Pitches Detention Center at Los Angeles County Jail, home to some 65 convicts.
"This device will allow us to quickly intervene without having to enter the area and without incapacitating or injuring either combatant," said Sheriff Lee Baca in a statement.
The question isn't whether or not convicted computer hacker Albert Gonzalez will do any time, but how much time. Prosecutors in the case want Gonzalez to serve 25 years, while his lawyer will argue that he should do no more than 15.
Back in September, Gonzalez, 28, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computer servers at a number of supermarket chains and corner convenience stores. Three months later, Gonzalez admitted to hacking into the computers at TJX Cos. BJ's Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, BostonMarket, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, and the Dave & Buster's restaurant chain.
During his online crime spree, Gonzalez racked up monetary damages worth almost $200 million.
"The sheer extent of the human victimization caused by Gonzalez and his organization is unparalleled," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann said in a sentencing memorandum.
For his illicit efforts, authorities say Gonzalez amassed $2.8 million in cash and assets, though as part of the plea deals, he was forced to forfeit more than $2.7 million, his Miami condo, a car, Rolex watches, and a Tiffany ring he gave to his girlfriend.
The feds have dethroned another "spam king," who, like the ones before him, will spend a little bit of time behind bars. Alan Ralsky, 63, pleaded guilty to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and to violating the federal CAN-SPAM Act.
What landed Ralsky in hot water was allegedly sending out unsolicited email to jack up the price of penny stock in Chinese companies to artificially high prices, and then selling it. Ralksy's Internet stock scheme netted him $2.7 million, as well as the attention of the feds and ultimately a 4-year prison sentence.
"With today's sentence of the self-proclaimed 'Godfather of Spam,' Alan Ralsky, and three others who played central roles in a complicated stock spam pump and dump scheme, the court has made it clear that advancing fraud through abuse of the Internet will lead to several years in prison," said U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg. "I commend the FBI, the Postal Inspection Service, and the IRS Criminal Investigative Division for their determined and careful investigation in this case which led to today's result."
Ralsky, who pleaded guilty back in June of this year, may have gotten off a little light, as he faced up to 7 years in prison.
As another reminder that crime doesn't pay, 23-year-old Nicholas Woodhams, also known as the "iPod Mechanic," faces 13 months in prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud and money laundering charges. Woodhams was also ordered to pay $648,568 in restitution to Apple and $8,066.85 to the U.S. Postal Service, Arstechnica reports.
According to the lawsuit, Woodhams ran a scam of exploiting Apple's advance replacement system for the iPod shuffle and reselling them through his own website. He also allegedly exploited Apple's iPod Warranty Service Program to get Apple to repair out-of-warranty iPods.
Woodhams' scam proved rather lucrative, but it's all going back. In addition to the above jail time and fines, Woodhams must forfeit about $750,000 worth of criminally acquired assets, including his house in Michigan, an Audi S4, an Ariel Atom 2, a Honda motocyle, and over $500,000 in cash. Ouch.
Alan Ralsky, a West Bloomfield, Michigan native, has pleaded guilty to allegations of wire and mail frauds, money laundering, and of violating the CAN-SPAM Act. As a result, Raslky faces up to 7 years in prison.
"Alan Ralsky was at one time the world's most notorious illegal spammer," said U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg. "Today Ralsky, his son-in-law Scott Bradley, and three of their co-conspirators stand convicted for their roles in running an international spamming operation that sent billions of illegal email advertisements to pump up Chinese 'penny' stocks and then reap profits by using trades in these same stocks while others bought at the inflated price."
In addition to duping recipients with falsified emails, the conspirators used software that made their messages hard to track, used illegal methods to get around spam blockers, falsified headers, and used proxy computers to relay the spam and falsely registered domain names, according to the Department of Justice. Their efforts reportedly brought in over $3 million.
While many of cases are still spending, Scott Bradley, Ralsky's 38-year-old son-in-law, pleaded guilty to the same charges and faces up to 78 months in prison and $1 million fine. John Brown, 45, of Fresno California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, of violating the CAN-SPAM Act, and conspiracy to commit computer fraud. Brown faces up to 63 months in prison and $75,000 fine. William Neil, 46, also of Fresno, California, and James Fite, 36, of Culver City, California, both pleaded guilty in the case. They, along with everyone else involved, will be sentenced on October 29, 2009.