TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: hacker92.txt

More 1992 hacker busts - the MOD busts

Here is the U.S. Secret Service press release. The obvious disclaimer:
I have nothing to do with the Secret Service, the FBI or anyone indicted
in this matter.

 Group of "Computer Hackers" Indicted; First Use of Wiretaps in
Such a Case
 To: National Desk
 Contact: Federico E. Virella Jr., 212-791-1955, or
          Stephen Fishbein, 212-791-1978, of the Office of
          the U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York; or
          Betty Conkling of the U.S. Secret Service, 212-466-4400; or
          Joseph Valiquette Jr. of the Federal Bureau of
          Investigation, 212-335-2715

   NEW YORK, July 8 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A group of five "computer
hackers" has been indicted on charges of computer tampering, computer
fraud, wire fraud, illegal wiretapping, and conspiracy, by a federal
grand jury in Manhattan, resulting from the first investigative use
of court-authorized wiretaps to obtain conversations and data
transmissions of computer hackers.
   A computer hacker is someone who uses a computer or a telephone to
obtain unauthorized access to other computers.
   The indictment, which was filed today, alleges that Julio
Fernandez, a/k/a "Outlaw," John Lee, a/k/a "Corrupt," Mark Abene,
a/k/a "Phiber Optik," Elias Ladopoulos, a/k/a "Acid Phreak," and Paul
Stira, a/k/a "Scorpion," infiltrated a wide variety of computer
systems, including systems operated by telephone companies, credit
reporting services, and educational institutions.
   According to Otto G. Obermaier, United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, James E. Heavey, special agent in
charge, New York Field Division, United States Secret Service,
William Y. Doran, special agent in charge, Criminal Division, New
York Field Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Scott
Charney, chief of the Computer Crime Unit of the Department of
Justice, the indictment charges that the defendants were part of a
closely knit group of computer hackers self-styled "MOD," an acronym
used variously for "Masters of Disaster" and "Masters of Deception"
among other things.  The indictment alleges that the defendants broke
into computers "to enhance their image and prestige among other
computer hackers; to harass and intimidate rival hackers and other
people they did not like; to obtain telephone, credit, information
and other services without paying for them; and to obtain passwords,
account numbers and other things of value which they could sell to
others." The defendants are also alleged to have used unauthorized
passwords and billing codes to make long distance telephone calls and
to be able to communicate with other computers for free.
   Some of the computers that the defendants allegedly broke into
were telephone switching computers operated by Southwestern Bell, New
York Telephone, Pacific Bell, U.S. West and Martin Marietta
Electronics Information and Missile Group.  According to the
indictment, such switching computers each control telephone service
for tens of thousands of telephone lines.  In some instances, the
defendants allegedly tampered with the computers by adding and
altering calling features.  In some cases, the defendants allegedly
call forwarded local numbers to long distance numbers and thereby
obtained long distance services for the price of a local call.
Southwestern Bell is alleged to have incurred losses of approximately
$370,000 in 1991 as a result of computer tampering by defendants
Fernandez, Lee, and Abene.
   The indictment also alleges that the defendants gained access to
computers operated by BT North America, a company that operates the
Tymnet data transfer network.  The defendants were allegedly able to
use their access to Tymnet computers to intercept data communications
while being transmitted through the network, including computer
passwords of Tymnet employees.  On one occasion, Fernandez and Lee
allegedly intercepted data communications on a network operated by
the Bank of America.
   The charges also allege that the defendants gained access to
credit and information services including TRW, Trans Union and
Information America.  The defendants allegedly were able to obtain
personal information on people including credit reports, telephone
numbers, addresses, neighbor listings and social security numbers by
virtue of their access to these services.  On one occasion Lee and
another member of the group are alleged to have discussed obtaining
information from another hacker that would allow them to alter credit
reports on TRW.  As quoted in the indictment, Lee said that the
information he wanted would permit them "to destroy people's lives...
or make them look like saints."
   The indictment further charges that in November 1991, Fernandez
and Lee sold information to Morton Rosenfeld concerning how to access
credit services.  The indictment further alleges that Fernandez later
provided Rosenfeld's associates with a TRW account number and
password that Rosenfeld and his associates used to obtain
approximately 176 TRW credit reports on various individuals.  (In a
separate but related court action, Rosenfeld pleaded guilty to
conspiracy to use and traffic in account numbers of TRW.  See below).
   According to Stephen Fishbein, the assistant United States
attorney in charge of the prosecution, the indictment also alleges
that members of MOD wiped out almost all of the information contained
within the Learning Link computer operated by the Educational
Broadcasting Corp. (WNET Channel 13) in New York City.  The Learning
Link computer provided educational and instructional information to
hundreds of schools and teachers in New York, New Jersey and
Connecticut.  Specifically, the indictment charges that on Nov. 28,
1989, the information on the Learning Link was destroyed and a
message was left on the computer that said: "Happy Thanksgiving you
turkeys, from all of us at MOD" and which was signed with the aliases
"Acid Phreak," "Phiber Optik," and "Scorpion." During an NBC News
broadcast on Nov. 14, 1990, two computer hackers identified only by
the aliases "Acid Phreak" and "Phiber Optik" took responsibility for
sending the "Happy Thanksgiving" message.
   Obermaier stated that the charges filed today resulted from a
joint investigation by the United States Secret Service and the
Federal Bureau of Investigation.  "This is the first federal
investigation ever to use court-authorized wiretaps to obtain
conversations and data transmissions of computer hackers," said
Obermaier.  He praised both the Secret Service and the FBI for their
extensive efforts in this case.  Obermaier also thanked the
Department of Justice Computer Crime Unit for their important
assistance in the investigation.  Additionally, Obermaier thanked the
companies and institutions whose computer systems were affected by
the defendants' activities, all of whom cooperated fully in the
   Fernandez, age 18, resides at 3448 Steenwick Ave., Bronx, New
York.  Lee (also known as John Farrington), age 21, resides at 64A
Kosciusco St. Brooklyn, New York.  Abene, age 20, resides at 94-42
Alstyne Ave., Queens, New York.  Elias Ladopoulos, age 22, resides at
85-21 159th St., Queens, New York.  Paul Stira, age 22, resides at
114-90 227th St., Queens, New York.  The defendants' arraignment has
been scheduled for July 16, at 10 a.m. in Manhattan federal court.
   The charges contained in the indictment are accusations only and
the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Fishbein stated that if convicted, each of the defendants may be
sentenced to a maximum of five years imprisonment on the conspiracy
count.  Each of the additional counts also carries a maximum of five
years imprisonment, except for the count charging Fernandez with
possession of access devices, which carries a maximum of ten years
imprisonment.  Additionally, each of the counts carries a maximum
fine of the greater of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss
   In separate but related court actions, it was announced that
Rosenfeld and Alfredo De La Fe have each pleaded guilty in Manhattan
Federal District Court to conspiracy to use and to traffic in
unauthorized access devices in connection with activities that also
involved members of MOD.
   Rosenfeld pled guilty on June 24 before the Shirley Wohl Kram,
United States District Judge.  At his guilty plea, Rosenfeld admitted
that he purchased account numbers and passwords for TRW and other
credit reporting services from computer hackers and then used the
information to obtain credit reports, credit card numbers, social
security numbers and other personal information which he sold to
private investigators.  Rosenfeld added in his guilty plea that on or
about Nov. 25, 1991, he purchased information from persons named
"Julio" and "John" concerning how to obtain unauthorized access to
credit services.  Rosenfeld stated that he and his associates later
obtained additional information from "Julio" which they used to pull
numerous credit reports.  According to the information to which
Rosenfeld pleaded guilty, he had approximately 176 TRW credit reports
at his residence on Dec. 6, 1991.
   De La Fe pled guilty on June 19 before Kenneth Conboy, United
States District Judge.  At his guilty plea, De La Fe stated that he
used and sold telephone numbers and codes for Private Branch
Exchanges ("PBXs").  According to the information to which De La Fe
pleaded guilty, a PBX is a privately operated computerized telephone
system that routes calls, handles billing, and in some cases permits
persons calling into the PBX to obtain outdial services by entering a
code.  De La Fe admitted that he sold PBX numbers belonging to Bugle
Boy Industries and others to a co-conspirator who used the numbers in
a call sell operation, in which the co-conspirator charged others to
make long distance telephone calls using the PBX numbers.  De La Fe
further admitted that he and his associates used the PBX numbers to
obtain free long distance services for themselves.  De La Fe said
that one of the people with whom he frequently made free long
distance conference calls was a person named John Farrington, who he
also knew as "Corrupt."
   Rosenfeld, age 21, resides at 2161 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Alfredo De La Fe, age 18, resides at 17 West 90th St., N.Y.
Rosenfeld and De La Fe each face maximum sentences of five years,
imprisonment and maximum fines of the greater of $250,000, or twice
the gross gain or loss incurred.  Both defendants have been released
pending sentence on $20,000 appearance bonds.  Rosenfeld's sentencing
is scheduled for Sept. 9, before Shirley Wohl Kram.  De La Fe's
sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 31, before Conboy.

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