Busted! Top Cybercriminal Prosecutions Of March

The criminals continue to do their bad business and law enforcement agencies successfully chase them down. That happens every month, so here are the most interesting cases from March.

busted

A fine for a piracy

Three million euros — that’s the amount two French men will likely pay as a fine for distributing pirated multimedia content. Several years ago a couple of young men developed a web site called Undeadlinks, where anyone could find and download copyrighted music and videos. The resource of illegal content was extremely popular so the owners decided to earn some money on it. The income was fantastic compared to the money two students had as a school stipend, but it couldn’t last forever: the site was identified by a local anti-piracy association, which filed a lawsuit against Undeadlinks and its creators. The case found very strong support from players like Warner, Disney and Universal. The court date will take place in April.

 

Try to steal $15 million and get 20 years in jail

US prosecutors announced the indictment of three men that tried to steal at least $15 million by hacking into U.S. customer accounts at a number of financial institutions. As stated, Richard Gundersen, Oleksiy Sharapka and Leonid Yanovitsky, members of an international cybercrime ring, spent more than a year gaining unauthorized access to accounts that belonged to customers of JPMorgan Chase Bank, PayPal, Citibank and other companies. Sharapka and Yanovitsky remain at large, while Gundersen is expected to appear in court later this year. The three conspirators, if they plead guilty, each faces up to 20 years in prison.

 

Jail time for leaking Windows 8

In late March, the FBI arrested a Russian programmer Alex Kibalko, an ex-Microsoft employee who was reportedly stealing trade secrets and leaking confidential beta copies of Windows 7 and Windows 8. The prosecutors said that Kibalko shared the software with an unnamed French tech blogger on a regular basis. He committed this crime after receiving a poor performance review at Microsoft. The leaker is also alleged to have stolen Microsoft’s Activation Server Software Development Kit, which is used to protect against piracy. The company identified the employee leaking the information after the French blogger contacted another employee asking if the piece of code he got from somewhere is a real part of the new Windows operating system. The investigation lasted for more than a year and involved a scanning of the blogger’s private Hotmail account to trace the identity of the leaker, which investigators described as an ‘extraordinary action’. Alex Kibalko will have to pay 22.5 thousand dollars as a fine and will spend three months behind the bars.

 

You cannot hide from justice in Thailand

Farid Essebar, an infamous hacker known for spreading Zotob malware among a number of big companies some years ago, has been arrested in Bangkok in March at the request of Switzerland. The 27-year-old guy is reportedly accused of hacking into bank computer systems in Europe, with a help of a group of cybercriminals, and causing damage worth more than $4 billion. Thai authorities said that Essebar and three other gang members were traveling around Thailand and neighboring countries spending money they got from the crime for the past three years. It’s not the first time Essebar has faced justice: around ten years ago he was sentenced to two years in prison. As we can see it didn’t help, so now he has a second chance to think about if he’s doing the right thing.

 

Mobile app pirates plead guilty

It seems it is the first time ever that the US government has convicted someone for selling pirated apps. Nicholas Anthony Narbone, 26, and Thomas Allen Dye, 21, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, the Justice Department announced at the end of March. Both men were running the AppBucket web site made for distributing counterfeit Android apps. As stated, Narbone and Dye hawked more than a million copies of pirated apps with a value of $700,000. Both men, scheduled for sentencing in the summer, face up to five years in prison.

 

1,500 Chinese arrested for sending spam

It may sound a bit funny but Chinese authorities have arrested 1,500 people for spreading spam messages via SMS using fake mobile base stations. A massive operation involving government departments took place across the country and seized more than 20 manufacturers and over 2,600 pieces of illegal telecom equipment which was used during massive spam attacks. China’s Ministry of Public Security said that one of the gang members is suspected of sending more that 200 million spam messages. Which would require a 16-slot GSM modem used by spammers to send out around 10,000 texts per hour.

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