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Court Punishes Man For Phishing

On October 18, 2006, federal prosecutors unsealed an 18-count legal accusation on John T. Brothers III, aged 31, living in Marshallton for dispatching fake e-mails. The phishing activity indicated to be from the Internet 'payment service', PayPal trying to collect personal information, which Brothers harvested to conduct credit card purchases in his victims' names.

Brothers appeared in the federal court on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty before Magistrate Judge Mary Pat Thynge.
The mass e-mail that Brothers practiced resembled 'spam' advertising but had a more malicious intent with fraud as the objective. Statistics show that one in five e-mail users receive an average of five phishing e-mails everyday. As the people are becoming more aware of fraudsters functioning, the phishing scams are growing more sophisticated.

The fake e-mail talked about an "unusual activity" in the recipient's account and that access would not be possible until the person opened the link to fix the problem. When the recipient did so, there appeared a supposedly legitimate PayPal page asking for name, Social Security number and other personal information. When the person submitted the information, it went to John T. Brothers rather than PayPal.
Brothers apparently used this method in the first half of 2005 to gather private information of at least seven victims and made illegal credit card purchases of above $1,000 in each name.

Prosecutors said that Brothers implemented another phishing program intended to be from 'Citizens Bank'. The e-mail requested for recipients' participation to curtail the cases of fraud on the bank's website. This was added with a threatening of account suspension if there was no action.

Brothers meet a punishment of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for each of the seven counts of unauthorized credit card purchases and two counts for owning at least 15 "unauthorized access devices' meaning to defraud. He meets another punishment for wire fraud comprising of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

If a PayPal receives a suspicious e-mail of this kind, he/ she should immediately log into the person's account and check for any activity before carrying on with any transaction.

Related article: Court Acquits Student From Generating Fake Boarding Passes

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