Man sentenced to 82 months for malware

A New Hampshire man was sentenced in federal court for his role in an international computer hacking conspiracy and his failure to file income tax returns while living in Massachusetts.

The man was sentenced to 82 months in federal prison to be followed by two years of supervised release and a $12,500 fine. Judge Gorton also sentenced him to forfeit $7,941,336 and to repay the IRS $2,287,993 in back taxes.

In April 2010, the person pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and five counts of failure to file a United States income tax return.

Had the case proceeded to trial, evidence would have proved that from 2003 through 2007, the person and his co- conspirators infected German citizens’ computers with a program that would force the computers’ telephone modems to surreptitiously dial premium telephone numbers rented from German telephone companies by the person’s co-conspirators.

The premium telephone lines operated like 1-900 numbers such as those used for directory assistance or astrological predictions: the telephone companies charged callers for added expenses on top of standard connection fees and sent a portion of the added expenses to those who rented the premium lines, in this case to the co-conspirators.

The victims were generally unaware that their computers’ telephone modems were calling these numbers and charging them these expenses. Victims paid the added charges if they did not notice them on their telephone bills. The telephone companies then sent the added charges to the premium telephone line renters, who divided the proceeds among the co-conspirators.

The offender participated in the conspiracy by employing computer programmers to write and edit the computer hacking software and by sending the hacks to co-conspirators.

Although the person participated in the scheme while based in Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England, he did not target United States’ computers or computer users. Instead, he focused solely on computers and computer users in Germany and possibly other European countries, in order, he thought, to avoid prosecution in the United States.


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