KENNETH C. CITARELLA LAURA A. FORBES
The Internet is often used by people who want to connect with new acquaintances, new business partners and even new lovers. In the darker corners of the Internet, however, criminals engage in anonymous communications to peddle services and sell contraband. Among the unlawful commodities available online are stolen identities complete with valid credit card information. Identity thieves harvest this information through phish-ing and pharming scams, in which the thieves trick unwary consumers into revealing their personal information, and then sell data to others to misuse for their own fraudulent purposes. Completely separate groups, unknown to each other except by their Internet screen names, can team up in this fashion and cause considerable harm to honest citizens.
In this case, one gang operating largely in the Northeast United States bought stolen identities and credit card information from a group of professional identity thieves operating overseas. The U.S. gang consisted of 13 young men of college age, most of whom were high-school classmates in a small town not too far north of New York City. At the time, five of them resided in Ravenna, a small city in upstate New York, and eight lived down-state, in Hudson's Landing, a New York City suburb. They were ethnically and economically diverse, but shared an affinity for computers, the Internet — and fraud.
The upstate members were Brian Noonan, Bart Grayson, ...