A Weblog About Topics and Issues Discussed in the Book Spam Kings by Brian McWilliams

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October 29, 2004

Phishers caught in dragnet

An online undercover operation headed up by the US Secret Service has resulted in the arrest of 28 people around the world. At least ten of the defendants were members of a site called Shadowcrew.com and were allegedly involved in, among other crimes, credit-card and debit-card fraud.


The Secret Service has apparently disabled member log-ins, but you can still browse through the member list or check out the message forums. Lots of handy information, such as advice on how to use stolen bank log-in data, or how to trick Hotmail users into divulging their secret answer so you can take over their accounts.

The Secret Service says the defendants are part of a "highly organized international criminal enterprise." But I have a hard time believing that we're talking about a real sophisticated group of criminals here. One of the defendants, 20-year-old Paul A. Mendel Jr., aka Mintfloss, lives with his grandparents in Albany, NY, according to one report. Shadowcrew has frequently been involved in noisy, sophomoric online tussles with other groups, which often result in Joe-job attacks between the parties.

On the other hand, the Shadowcrew apparently wasn't just a bunch of kids. According to the case docket, among those busted was David Appleyard, 45, of Linwood, NJ, who went by the alias Black Ops. Appleyard apparently had his stock broker's license suspended (scroll down) in July 2004. Another defendant, Andrew P. Mantovani, aka Deck, is 47. (Here's a list of the other defendants.)

Time will tell whether these arrests reduce the phishing attacks on the Internet. Members of another "carder" forum are currently discussing the crackdown at Shadowcrew.com.

Posted by brian at October 29, 2004 12:10 PM


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