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Palestinian Arrested for Allegedly Masterminding Phishing Scam

Police along with the IDF took Palestinian resident 'Mohammed Aalan,' aged 22, living in the West Bank (Palestine) into custody on November 15, 2009 on charges that he had allegedly organized a phishing scam against customers of Bank Leumi.

More specifically, the charges allege that Aalan clandestinely entered the accounts using particulars he acquired via e-mail from different customers of the Bank. The e-mails directed recipients (the customers) to provide their usernames, passwords and account numbers, citing "security reasons."

Furthermore, the e-mails contained a web-link connecting to phishing sites that mimicked Bank Leumi's and Bank of Israel's websites. Consequently, when people followed it, Aalan seemingly gathered their details and utilized them to illegally access their accounts or conduct transactions on their credit and/or debit cards, officials at the Police Department said, as reported by Haaretz on November 16, 2009.

More details of the phishing scam disclose that the Police initiated a probe after Security Chief of Bank Leumi formally complained of the e-mail fraud, as reported by Jpost on November 15, 2009.

During the 2nd week of November 2009, Bank Leumi said via a statement that online phishing incidences were increasing in numbers, and the offences attacked bank clients.

The statement also indicated that in case a customer got a message akin to the one that Aalan sent, he must be careful with it as it could be an effort to steal identity or commit fraud, as reported by Ynetnews on November 15, 2009.

Aviram Cohen, Spokesman of Bank Leumi, warned that users should not open e-mails that came from strangers, as the bank didn't ever e-mail messages to its clients, as reported by Jpost.

According to some more reports, on November 15, 2009, the Magistrate Court of Tel Aviv rejected the Police request for extending Alan's remand by 15 days, but the Police cited strong clues against Aalan, it led to the extension of the remand by 4 days.

Additionally, phishing attempts against Bank Leumi are not new. During 2008, a gang of online scammers from Brazil had targeted its clients, but the Bank managed to smash it.

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