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Floridian Couple Arrested on Charges of Running Massive Phishing Scam

Esecurityplanet.com reported on 21st January, 2014, stating that Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), a Florida government agency, announced the arrests of 46 years old Steve Vincent Barone and 44 years old Robin Elaina Barone on pretext of defraud & theft. They were also found guilty of criminal use of personal information, relating to a phishing scheme that had revealed the identities of 396 victims.

The couple has been accused of sending various phishing emails to lure customers of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo banks. These emails required them to disclose their accounts, PIN and credit card numbers, along with other personal data like date of birth, etc.

Orlandosentinel.com published a statement on 16th January, 2014, quoting Danny Warren, FDLE Special Agent Supervisor, as saying "According to the phishing emails, the security of the accounts had been breached and the banks needed the information to identify and correct the problem."

The Barones used the illegally acquired information to place the order for replacement of debit cards. These cards were delivered to them at several addresses in the Central Florida region. On receiving the debit cards, Steve Barone use them to purchase money orders which he then used to deposit in a business account. The couple stole approximately $550,000 in total.

Warren said that FDLE and the office of Sheriff of Seminole County (Florida) began investigating the Barones last year (2013) although the scam may have begun three to four years ago.

Orlandosentinel.com published a report on 16th January, 2014, quoting Sheriff's spokeswoman Heather Smith on receipt of an alert from JPMorgan Chase & Co. about suspicious account activity, which claimed that their role began when they had received the initial complaint.

Commissioner of FDLE Gerald Bailey quoted in a statement that the crime was widespread and damaged not only the targeted victims but also other consumers and business communities.

Agents booked the couple into the Orange County Jail on $180,000 and $105,000 bonds respectively. The investigation is still going on with anticipation of more arrests.

The arrest of the couple was notified a few days after four people were successfully arrested by UK Police after the suspected theft of 1 million Pound from two UK banks using computer malware. This highlighted the victory of Police over cyber criminals.

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