5 charged for malware-driven money theft

Five people have been charged by federal prosecutors of trying to steal almost half a million dollars from a bank account belonging to the city of Carson in California.

The Register reports that the theft was executed in May 2007, and the five – Jennifer Ann Woodard, Deago Larase Smith, Lance Corbett Holt, John L. Quinn II, and Anthony Leonard Bobbitt – have been discovered when they tried to withdraw the money from the online bank accounts to which the money belonging to the city was sent in the first place.

Apparently, the access to the city’s account was made possible because a variant of the Talex Trojan had been installed on a laptop used by Karen Avilla, the Carson treasurer. Among other things, the Trojan has keylogging capabilities that allowed the perpetrators to get their hands on the account information and credentials.

According to Avilla, it is still not clear how the malware was installed – whether it was a malicious link or attachment in an email she received, or a visit to a malicious website that did it. Fortunately for the city, almost all the money was recovered.

Since the discovery of the breach, Carson has changed its system for keeping a tab on electronic transfers – now, whenever a transaction occurs, three officials receive a notification of it by email, text message and fax.

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