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Microsoft Sues 117 Phishers 170

Posted by Zonk
from the flushing-out-the-rats dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this week Microsoft filed 117 John Doe cases today to learn the identity of scam artists who have been targeting its Hotmail and MSN customers in phishing scams, according to a Washington Post story. This is the same tactic the music and motion picture industries have used to mixed success against file-swappers, except in this case the ISPs themselves are some of the biggest targets of phishing scams. The story says the tactic has already worked once for Microsoft; in a case last year where ISP subpoenas led to a kid in Iowa who was caught phishing MSN users from his grandpa's dial-up account. The 21-year-old was ordered to pay Microsoft $3 million, but I doubt his job at Blockbuster is going to make a dent in that debt."
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Microsoft Sues 117 Phishers

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  • by toadlife (301863) on Friday April 01, 2005 @09:33PM (#12117857) Journal
    NO. Really. It isn't.
    • Finally?
      Clue, April Fools is supposed to entertain, mislead and laugh.
      Not bore to death and steal attention from real news.
    • by aixou (756713) on Friday April 01, 2005 @09:46PM (#12117910)
      What's the problem? Phishing scams need to be stopped, plain and simple.

      Now that more and more of the "unwashed masses" are using online services like Paypal and eBay, phishing scams are all over the place. It's getting a little ridiculous. These phishers need to be sent to Federal "pmita" Prison sooner rather than later.
      Phishers of that type (those stealing money and credit card numbers) lack integrity and they lack honor, and they need to be put away.

      • These fraud artists need to be put away in "pmita" prisons, for selling miracle cures and housing siding to old people. And selling the Brooklyn bridge. And selling this hot new miracle cure.

        This is an old scam. Fixing the systemic problems that enables it on the net (too easy information sharing, government mandated IDs that can easily be misused, etc.) is hard, and requires government action. It is only becoming easy because of tech; and saying that punishing people harder because the tech slider moved

        • But anyone who believes that prison rape is an equitable punishment for being found guilty for any of the things that are currently on the books

          I don't know... rape, for instance? Dismemberment of small children? I agree with you, generally, as shoplifting or smoking a joint certainly don't merit prison rape, but I would say that for some of the things currently on the books (as listed above) prison rape is an equitable punishment.

          Unless, of course, we are all just products of our genes and our enviro
          • If you believe in the eye-for-an-eye thing, then you should support court mandated rape under controlled conditions for that class of offenses, rather than the biggest-most-violent-man-wins sort of effect we have now. If someone deserves it, shouldn't we make sure they get it? The contrapositive applies, too: why are we, as a society, condoning rape for minor offenses?

            My personal view is that there should be a bright line between, well, cruel and unusual punishments and punishments officially sanctioned b

            • I'm not disagreeing with you. I don't support eye-for-an-eye retribution, but I likewise find it very hard to feel much sympathy for the real hardcore criminal when another hardcore criminal assaults him.
    • NO. Really. It isn't.

      Microsoft suing 117 Phish fans is not a joke?

    • by dsginter (104154) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:12PM (#12118191)
      What's really funny is that the submitter tried to make MS look like the bad guy. In reality, what MS have done is good for everyone who wants to use the internet legitimately.

      I believe that's what they call "spin".
    • by jd (1658)
      I'd have thought they'd hire them to "improve" sales.
    • No, it isn't... Its April Phools!
  • It would be quite amusing if it turned out one of the Phisher's names was "John Doe".
    • I think it would be more amusing if it was Trey Anastasio or Mike Gordon.
    • I would be surprised if anybody in the Doe clan makes the mistake of naming their children "John" or "Jane."
    • Interesting you should say that. I was once sent a legal notice of eviction via the mail that required me to go to the post office to pick it up. It was addressed to "John Doe" at my address. (It was from the landlord of my apartment building who knew everyone's addresses he wanted to evict, but didn't think it worth the effort to look up the tenants' actual names). The postal clerk at the desk asked me "Is your name John Doe?" He knew it wasn't. He told me I did not have to accept the letter if I did no
  • by Threatis (847906) <ThreatisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday April 01, 2005 @09:35PM (#12117866) Homepage
    lets just instate a cull. give us all "Phishing Hunting" licenses, and let us roam the country side with the weapons of our choice.
  • by nebaz (453974) on Friday April 01, 2005 @09:36PM (#12117869)
    between file swapping and phishing.
    • phishing (Score:2, Funny)

      by Daltorak (122403)
      I have fifteen Phish concerts shared out over Bittorrent, you insensitive clod!
      • actually, i think you're onto something, maybe Microsoft is actually sueing Phish fans. hmmmmm, that adds a whole new perspective to this situation.
  • I've been noticing a couple of websites that have been adding 'tags' to news posts to differentiate between the 'funny' and the real. Might we see something like this next year?
    • I haven't noticed much difference in the quality and accuracy of the stories this April 1st compared to any other day...
    • I thought that was the point - you had to 'guess' what was real and what wasn't. Although, the rampant ThinkGeek advertising this year really turned me off to what is usually a fun and halarious day. "Scientific American Gives Up" was good, but in the past we've had a lot of real gems. Guess this wasn't our year, or perhaps Slashdot has jumped the shark.
  • I think its because of all the "joke" posts. Next year I hope this dosen't get repeated because this is a REAL post.
  • Make Money Fast! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jokestress (837997) on Friday April 01, 2005 @09:45PM (#12117906)
    I just googled the phisher king's name and saw a few MMF spams from 1999 with that name and a Davenport street address. Coincidence?
  • by MHobbit (830388)
    This isn't an April's Fools joke. It's a vision into the future, where a phisher's name really IS John Doe!
  • hee hee, microsoft, which never misses a chance to get its hands in users' pockets, is getting after somebody else who wants to do the same? TOO funny!!! ROFL!!!!!! ah, geez, how do they keep coming up with this stuff?
  • by sfcat (872532) on Friday April 01, 2005 @09:48PM (#12117919)
    Let's see here, in one case you are stealing actual money from the general public. In the other case, you are trading some copyrighted work that you already own. In addition, file trading isn't stealing, it is a violation of copyright law. Also, there is a reason to believe that file trading actually helps the artists by increasing the public's awareness of their music/art/whatever.

    I can't believe that the slashdot editors greenlighted such a poorly worded post on the front page. At the very least, they should have edited the post before putting it on the front page. WTF, they should know the different between file trading and phishing.

    Oh, they should string up the phishers by their thumbs. Good for MS (I don't believe I just wrote that, it really is April Fools Day)

    • by jxyama (821091) on Friday April 01, 2005 @10:50PM (#12118142)
      >there is a reason to believe that file trading actually helps the artists by increasing the public's awareness of their music/art/whatever.

      i always hate this line of reasoning. the fact is, whether or not filesharing helps the actual copyright holder is irrelevant. you don't have the right to re-distribution, plain and simple. let the copyright holder decide for him/herself if they want to allow sharing. otherwise, it's just poor attempt at justifying copyright infringement.

      i have the right to determine who enters my house. even if there are outsiders that can help me out, ultimately i make the decision whether or not they enter my house.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:36AM (#12118624)
        How severe a crime is normally comes from what kind of harm it causes. Murder is a very severe crime since the harm is massive. Shoplifing is quite a minor crime since the harm is minimal. Speeding is just a civil matter, since there is no direct harm (just an increased probability of a mistake causing harm).

        The way the MPAA/RIAA/etc talk about file sharing, they act like it's on the severity level of grand theft or so. They act as though massive amounts of actual harm are being caused. Thus they argue for stiff penalities, currently lawsuits in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and they want a law making it criminal carrying prison time.

        In actuality, file sharing is like speeding. There is no direct harm. There is no loss of money, since they never had the money in the first place. There is a potential loss of money, since you now have something you potentially might have paid for, but then a bad review, friend's suggestion, or alternate product can cause the same thing. Also, even the potential loss is small.

        Now phishing is a moderatly severe crime. It causes serious economic damage to the victim (phishers generally take them for all they can) as well as damage to their credit, which is difficult to repair, and the necessity to essentially recreate one's identity. The harm is very real, not at all potential.

        Thus it's quite relivant to point out the difference. One is a much more severe crime. I fully support agressive tactics and stiff punishments to shut down and convict phishers, just as I do for armed robbers, car thieves and so on. I do not support agressive tactics and stiff punishments to shot down file sharers, any more than I do speeders, those that litter, underage drinkers and so on.
      • Your writing/music/video is not your house. You have no fundamental right to prevent someone 6000km away from you from making a copy of a disc to one of his friends, an activity that has no direct bearing on you at all.

        Copyright exists only to help the general public by encouraging production of new works. Giving "the right to redistribution" to the artist exclusively is a mere legal convenience. We shouldn't let our ethics be distorted by copyright holders' use of inaccurate terms like "theft" and "pi

        • Wrong again... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ImaLamer (260199) <{john.lamar} {at} {gmail.com}> on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:35AM (#12119025) Homepage Journal
          Your writing/music/video is not your house. You have no fundamental right to prevent someone 6000km away from you from making a copy of a disc to one of his friends, an activity that has no direct bearing on you at all.

          Copyright exists only to help the general public by encouraging production of new works. Giving "the right to redistribution" to the artist exclusively is a mere legal convenience. We shouldn't let our ethics be distorted by copyright holders' use of inaccurate terms like "theft" and "piracy".


          Copy right. Get it?

          You, and others, forget that your "right" to make copies (fair use) is given to you with the same stroke of the pen that gave you the responsibility to respect the owner of that copyright.

          I'm not an **AA agent trolling here, I'm trying to make a valid point. The law gave you certain rights, but it also gave the producer of the work certain rights. Words like "theft" and "piracy" are over used, and I disagree with the legal tactics of the **AA (as I do the BSA's tactics and others who overstep their bounds, Orrin Hatch listening?).

          However, as a music, movie, software or literary producer you've got the right to decide how and where your work gets used (within limits). You sign a deal with Sony or Time Warner, not for recording time and promotion, but so they can mass distribute your music and make those decisions for you. Otherwise you'd have to do that yourself - and you already had the music thing down.

          The reason you go for GPL or FDL licenses is because you want to ensure people respect your wishes that modifications are made openly and so forth...

          It really burns me to see the same people making issues of GPL/copyleft violations while attacking other people's right to copyright. Copyleft is still copyright, no matter which way you look at it.

          Make copies for your friends, but don't hide behind that next time, thinking mass distribution is your right. It's this type of thinking, the application of the idea that "information wants to be free" to entertainment, that makes more restrictive laws necessary and possible. Stop! Because people crying about "freedom" the most are the ones costing us the most. I'm sure RMS thinks Microsoft is wrong for charging what they do for software - but I doubt he advocates breaking the law to demonstrate that idea.
          • You, and others, forget that your "right" to make copies (fair use) is given to you with the same stroke of the pen that gave you the responsibility to respect the owner of that copyright.

            Wrong. Nobody "gave" us the right to copy. It existed before any copyright laws were written. Those laws took most of that right away- and although they didn't remove 100% of it, they added nothing.

            You, and others, forget that your "right" to make copies (fair use) is given to you with the same stroke of the pen tha
        • Yes, let's be pedantic. Taking away the right of the copyright owner by distributing the work without permission isn't "theft" or "piracy", it's, ummm.... just "taking it away".

          • Taking away the right of the copyright owner

            "Taking away a right" is a far different thing from ignoring it. If I trespass onto your lawn, I don't suddenly own your house, so I haven't "taken away" your property.

            Likewise, trespassing on your copyright is different from somehow claiming that copyright for my own.
      • It is irrelevant if you are discussing whether or not copying is breaking the law or not. Yes, file sharers break the law.

        But it is not irrelevant if you are discussing whether or not the current laws are just.
      • i have the right to determine who enters my house. even if there are outsiders that can help me out, ultimately i make the decision whether or not they enter my house.

        And this line of reasoning doesn't properly explain the difference between intellectual property and physical property.

        If someone, say the government, takes my money, I see it gone.

        If someone, say you, takes something I've composed (I make music as a hobby), I haven't lost anything.

        The problem with the debate of intellectual property righ
        • "If someone, say you, takes something I've composed (I make music as a hobby), I haven't lost anything."

          Other than the right to determine distribution, that is. Therefore, your statement is false.
          • Other than the right to determine distribution, that is.

            By that brilliant line of reasoning, every single crime, misdeanor, and civil infringment is theft. Murder, rape, kidnapping, libel, slander- they all deprive the victim of some abstract intangible concept, therefore you think they are ALL theft.

            That is tremendously useful for evaluating right and wrong. Hooray, there's only one kind of crime!
          • Nobody has the "right" to determine distribution except for the person who is doing the distributing.

            Now, the legal system grants the PRIVILEGE of determining distribution, in a failed experiment to encourage creativity, but it is not a RIGHT (regardless of what the name says).
          • That is a positive right, and thus, is null and void.
      • The problem with the record company's is that it is impossible to get anything in the air or the shops without signing a license with a record company. In this license you sign that you will use the *insert big evil, monopolistic organization* to gather your reward. These organizations are normally protected by law as well.

        Basically, what I am saying is that in the ideal situation the copyright holder would be able to control what is shared and what is not. In practice however, this seldom works. My ISP tr
      • You might not like that line of reasoning, however you have not countered with your own. I'm not saying your viewpoint is wrong, but simply stating supposed rights with no justification is hardly even arguing at all. You have simply pulled up cultural laws of some sort of ownership, and as far as the discussion of ethics and philosophy of file sharing is conserned it added absolutely nothing, this wouldn't be accepted by any ethics teacher of any reasonable institution.

        The parent was good enough to state

      • 'I have the right to determine who enters my house.'

        Squatters rights.

        The Land Registration Act 2002 (which follows recommendations in Law Commission Report 254 Land Registration for the Twenty-First Century) provides a new scheme for adverse possession of registered land. Adverse possession of itself, for however long, will not bar the owner's title to a registered estate in land (s96).

        Right to apply - 10 years adverse possession

        However a squatter will be entitled to apply to the Land Registry to be re
      • i have the right to determine who enters my house. even if there are outsiders that can help me out, ultimately i make the decision whether or not they enter my house.

        But what if people could enter your house without you knowing it, without depriving you of the use of anything in your house. That's what file sharing is. They copyright owners are not being deprived of the use of their work an any way. Using your example, it would be as if an invisible, incorporial being were to enter your house, without us

    • This is the same tactic the music and motion picture industries have used to mixed success against file-swappers

      Uhh, this is true. They're handling the case in pretty much the same way. That says nothing about the similarities/differences of phishing and file-swapping.
    • "file trading isn't stealing, it is a violation of copyright law. Also, there is a reason to believe that file trading actually helps the artists by increasing the public's awareness of their music/art/whatever."

      The sad part is you actually have repeated this bullshit enough you probably now believe it.

    • In the other case, you are trading some copyrighted work that you already own.

      That's not entirely true. If you are the copyright holder, then you're free to share it with whoever you want to. If you have permission from the copyright holder, then the same applies. If you bought (eg) a CD and do not have permission, then you are not free to share the work (and you don't own it either, you own a copy of it).

      Finally though, and probably my biggest issue with what you said, is that I simply do not believe t
    • 'you are trading some copyrighted work that you already own.'

      You don't 'own' the work, you only own the copy of it.

      Phishers you the information that you willing supply them, file traders distribute a copy of a file that was willingly supplied to them.

      'Well, I just put up this site that looked like a bank, sent some people a few emails asking them to play around with my site and they gave me all their details. Who would have thought that.'

      If anything Phishers just point out how poor security on the Inter
  • 3million? (Score:2, Funny)

    by odyrithm (461343)
    "but I doubt his job at Blockbuster is going to make a dent in that debt"

    I think I ow blockbusters about that with all these late returns.. god damn it.
  • by Stanistani (808333) on Friday April 01, 2005 @09:55PM (#12117953) Homepage Journal
    It pounds, the drum, the drum, the drum
    The tumbril rolls to its slow beat
    Condemned and damned besot with rum
    the doomed kneels down his doom to meet

    His neck will feel the sharpened blade
    his sand of life drifts thru the sieve
    Fish not in royal ponds or glade
    If long you have a wish to live

    doom to phishers
  • They've began doing something I can enjoy. They've finally taken the side of the masses and not themselves!!
    • Well, they are only trying to defend the products that they have put out there.

      I understand that Hotmail has to deal with a lot of this kind of spam.

      The suits act as a deterent and sends a message that Microsoft is trying to hunt these people down and stop their operations.

      Here's a link [msn.com] to the MSNBC story.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft if it was to do the decent thing would just hand over the evidence to the Police

    by suing they get to make a load of cash at the same time all at the expense of people the phishers ripped off in teh first place, where some see shit others see gold

    nice huh

    • Right, and you actually think that companies get the large payments that they're awarded from people who are broke or have no income? Most of the time they lose money on legal fees in cases such as these. The idea that Microsoft is going to make a bundle of money out of this is ludicrous.
  • Hehe (Score:4, Funny)

    by kernel_dan (850552) <slashdevslashtty ... l.com minus city> on Friday April 01, 2005 @10:02PM (#12117985)
    Microsoft doing something for their customers? That cracks me up every time.
  • This one is like all the others.... not funny, poorly written, and kinda boring...

    Are we sure it isn't another April Fools story? Microsoft doing something good?

  • In an Open Source world, would we ever see these kinds of lawsuits? Is there afterall some use for these large companies with big $$$ ?
  • Pathetic Wording! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 01, 2005 @10:33PM (#12118084)
    In my years of reading slashdot, this is one of the most horribly worded article submissions.

    Does slashdot editors consider music sharing in the same light as phishing/spamming and the magic love pill? The teenager seems to be mentioned on the same lines of the other youngsters who were targetted by the RIAA.

    In related news, which company makes the most focused effort to bringing the spam-pigs to justice? Check Here [zdnet.com]

    I can see only one reason for all this. Its Microsoft!
    • The wording is bad, I agree. But I do believe that MicroSoft would be happy if the general public were to equate phishers with file sharers.
  • I wonder if anyone else who saw they were going after 117 phishers thought the same thing I did.

    (Namely, something along the lines of: OMG WTF!?!? 117??? Freakin sweet!! Bungie r0x0rs & MS kicks teh butt MC style!).

    Ahem, don't ask.
    • You know, the number 117 is the only thing that made me think twice and say "hey maybe this is an april fool's joke." I did recall seeing the same news posted a few days ago though, so I sort of doubt it's a joke. Still, the presense of the 11 and 7 is kinda a weird cooincidence.
  • It's not phishers... it's phishermen. Sheesh ;)

    RP
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:57AM (#12118663)
    Surely somebody who has reached the age of 21-years should no longer be considered a kid in any sense of the word? Is labelling him a "kid" somehow meant to explain or even excuse his actions?
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @02:07AM (#12118678)
    1) Produce email software with massive security problems...
    2) Ignore your customers complaints about fixing it...
    3) .....
    4) Profit
  • Well, he'd better get phishing if he wants to pay that bill.

  • Microsoft are hosting domain and mailservices for the wellknown LOTTERY scamming. Those scammers, often claiming to be from the UK, register names at MSN personal domain service, and have the mail for those domains handled by MSN Hotmail.
    They send spam messages around claiming you have won a price in some lottery, sometimes even "the Microsoft Word Lottery" or similar.
    Of course, it is a Negerian 419 scam. When you would go about claiming your price, you would have to pay some notary fee, or another advanc
  • So, the dreaded, hated phishers, who try to steal your money or identity are in fact heroes.

    Yes, lets all blame MS for the actions of the phishers. It's no fault of the actual bastards who are doing the crime.

    Only on /. can the most hated bastards be considered heroes ... taken advantage of by MS who somehow forced them to phish with their software.

    analogy time!

    Someone break into your house? ... must be the fault of the Door manufacturer, not the bastard who broke it open!

    Someone steal your car? ... mu
  • by dmarx (528279)
    My only problem with this is that these identity theives are not getting hit with criminal charges.
    This is not at all like the AA lawsuits. In the file sharing lawsuits, there was no actual damage, only potential damages (I'd be supprised if .001% of the file sharers would have actually bought the content in question). In this case, there is identity theft going on. Identity theft must be cracked down on if we want Mom and Pop to get online.

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