AOH :: ISN-1715.HTM

Operators of Web site admit role in online identity theft ring

Operators of Web site admit role in online identity theft ring
Operators of Web site admit role in online identity theft ring,0,5398320.story?coll=ny-region-apnewjersey 

November 17, 2005

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Six more people pleaded guilty Thursday to
operating a Web site that investigators claimed was one of the largest
online centers for trafficking in stolen identity information and
credit cards.

With others who pleaded guilty in recent weeks, that brings to 12
people who acknowledged roles with the site,, which 
had about 4,000 members who dealt with at least 1.5 million stolen
credit card numbers and caused more than $4 million in losses, federal
prosecutors said.

"The losses incurred were to the issuing banks and MasterCard, Visa,
American Express, who reimbursed those who were victimized by these
crimes," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Dowd said.

Eight of those who pleaded guilty were among 19 in the United States
and abroad who were indicted in October 2004 after federal agents
gained control of the site during a yearlong undercover investigation
by the Secret Service and other agencies. Of the remaining 11, five
are fugitives and six still have charges pending.

The other four who pleaded guilty were among eight people charged by a
federal complaint.

Among those pleading guilty Thursday was Andrew Mantovani, 23, of
Scottsdale, Ariz., who prosecutors said acknowledged his role as
co-founder and administrator of the Shadowcrew site. He said
techniques such as "phishing" and spamming were used to illegally
obtain credit and bank card information, which he used to buy goods on
the Internet.

Phishing scams use e-mails that appear to come from banks or other
financial institutions to induce recipients to verify their accounts
by typing personal details - credit card information, for example -
into a Web site disguised to appear legitimate.

Mantovani also admitted that in September 2004 he illegally acquired
about 18 million e-mail accounts with associated user names,
passwords, dates of birth and other personal identification.

Mantovani pleaded guilty to a conspiracy count and a count of unlawful
transfer of identification to facilitate criminal conduct. Each
carries up to five years in prison. The others pleaded guilty to a
conspiracy count.

U.S. District Judge William J. Martini scheduled sentencings for
February and March.

The Shadowcrew site once boasted discussion groups, in English and
Russian, including one on "novelty identification, 2nd ID, Passports,
and the like." Another focused on "hacking, SPAM, online anonymity
tools and programs in general."


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