A U.S. court sentenced Thomas Taylor of West Haven, Connecticut to four years of probation for his participation in a malware-powered ID theft scam, reports the Register. Taylor used fake electronic greetings cards to spread malware among AOL users. Apart from probation Taylor was also ordered to pay $33,714 in restitution to victims of the scheme. Besides, he agreed to serve 200 hours of community service during his probation. First seven months of his restriction he will be confined to home.
During the period of four months Taylor and his accomplices lured AOL users via malware into providing their personal information. The scheme worked this way. AOL users were first sent a spam greeting card that claimed to come from either Hallmark.com and Bluemountain.com. In fact the cards contained a malware preload. The Trojan that uploaded itself to the user's computer prevented them from logging into the account without entering their banking account details, social security numbers and other personal information into a fake websites controlled by the criminals.
Afterwards the data was used to produce fake ATM cards which in turn were subsequently used to withdraw money from the accounts and buy such goods as gaming consoles, laptops and gift cards, the things which were easy to carry.
In September 2006 Taylor pleaded guilty to fraud and identity theft offences. The mastermind of the scam, Michael Dolan, was sentenced to 84 months' imprisonment in August 2008.