Romanian punished for online phishing fraud
A Michigan-based Romanian immigrant has been indicted for online fraud after he was caught running a money-spinning phishing scam that pilfered the personal information and financial records of thousands of people—7,000 overall, and nearly 100 from Minnesota alone.
This Tuesday, the 23-year-old Sergiu D. Popa was sentenced in a Minneapolis federal court for eight and a half years of prison time for online fraud after admitting that his extensive and lengthy phishing expeditions has cost his 7,000 or so quarries a whopping $700,000 worth of stolen finances.
Judge John Tunheim justifies his decision by pointing out the obvious: The morally bankrupt Popa has hurt and ruined a lot of people's lives because of his cyber crimes, and the eight and a half year sentence is more than suitable punishment for his transgressions.
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According to the judge, for the sake of protecting the public from felons like him, Popa must be made an example to deter people from committing similar violations in the future. Cyber crimes are also crimes punishable by law, no exceptions.
Popa's guilty plea last autumn documents a seven-year-long cyber fraud scam beginning on June 2000 and ending on February 2007. His rather inexpensive operation initially made use of two e-mail accounts in order to phish or covertly steal financial and personal information from his targets, which includes Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, addresses, names, and the like.
He afterwards expanded his little cyber crime business, making additional fake websites and e-mails in order to make his operations appear like an authentic and legitimate institution requesting for user information. Surfers who have gotten his e-mails and gone into his websites were afterwards swindled into giving away their private records and data via forms and questionnaires.
The enterprising Popa even proposed to sell his hefty database full of 7,000 stolen individual records and identities. A raid into the perpetrator's residence allowed FBI to recover partially created false credit cards and drivers' licenses, black plastic cards, foil ribbons used to make holographs for IDs and credit cards, and a machine used for printing graphics on blank white cards.
Theodore Theisen, an FBI special agent working alongside the Minnesota Cyber Crime Task Force for this particular case, informs that Popa originally immigrated to America through a six-month visitor visa in June 2000 before illicitly overstaying here to commit cyber fraud.