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Crime The Courts Your Rights Online

New Hampshire Man Sentenced To 7 Years For Robo-Calling Malware 160

alphadogg writes with this excerpt from Network World: "A New Hampshire man who made $8 million by installing unwanted dial-up software on computers and then forcing them to call expensive premium telephone numbers was handed down an 82-month sentence this week. Prosecutors say that between 2003 and 2007, Asu Pala and others put together a lucrative business by setting up premium telephone numbers in Germany — similar to the 1-900 numbers used in the US — and then infecting German PCs with software that would automatically dial the numbers for short periods of time." Do that many people still have modems attached?
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New Hampshire Man Sentenced To 7 Years For Robo-Calling Malware

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  • That will teach him! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vvaduva ( 859950 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @12:09AM (#35354168)

    Gotta love the punitive vs retributive approach to justice in the West. Why not make the guy work towards paying back the victims instead or locking him up for 7 years and forcing the victims or us the taxpayers to pay for his food, clothing, heating, cable and housing?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @12:44AM (#35354336)


    May 5, 2000 - "Love" virus accidentally targets fax machines

  • Re:Modem Tax (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @01:14AM (#35354456)

    Nowadays modems are really rare; it's hard to find one. My server has one connected, which I bought about seven years ago, just to receive faxes. Not easy to find a shop selling them back then; will be harder now. It has never been used for a data connection. Nonetheless they are still available. Dial-up internet is even still available.

    This story started in 2003, when modem use was quite common at least in Europe. In 2001/2002 I worked for about half a year at the telephone help desk of a major Dutch ISP, dial-up was for many people the main way to connect to the Internet. I recall even a serious reorganisation of the telephone system to accomodate all those dial-up users. At the time probably still more dial-up users than ADSL or cable users. By 2003 dial-up must still have been very common. And people that switched possibly simply had their modem still connected. Indeed nowadays this kind of fraud would not work anymore.

    What I encountered very often when talking to people was that they had multiple dial-in icons in their network settings. One from our ISP, sometimes one or two from a previous ISP, and a handful of icons that they didn't even realise are there. Most were porn dialers, installed by malicious sites (usually porn sites), that would try to dial expensive numbers. This sounds very much like what these people have been sentenced for.

    Anyway it's not surprising that it worked in those years, as modems were simply a really common way to connect to the Internet. It wasn't fast but it worked, and it worked on existing infrastructure. Add to that the plethora of security issues in Win98 and WinXP and these things happened - and happened a lot.

    The most remarkable part of this story, besides that such a common crime even appears on the /. home page, is that the culprits have been caught and sentenced.

  • Re:Few Questions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by andrewla ( 722448 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @02:09AM (#35354636)
    A) Did these people not scan their computer reasonably enough to detect the malware.
    If the scanner was able to pick it up.

    B) Did these people run a completely insecure OS allowing them to be infected
    Should MS Windows users be banned from using the Internet ? Well yes they should, but I cannot see that happening.

    C) DId these people have enough common sense to run firewall software to prevent the infection
    What good is a firewall, the hardware port to the modem needs to be open to use the Internet. End of story.

    >D) Did they not notice there modems dial out to a number they didn't authorise
    Not if the malware waited till there was no keyboard activity, or the melware turned off the modem sound before it called.
    Even if you were using the phone line when it tried to call you might not spot it, just a couple of clicks while the modem tried to get a dial tone.
    The only indication is if you tried to make a call in the middle of the malware call, and even then, a lot of people might blame the phone company.

    Yes it is entirely his own fault.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.