Any day that starts with a video of DIICOT in action is a good day! Over the weekend I saw Lucien Constantin share the good news on Softpedia that a Major VOIP Fraud Gang was Dismantled in Romania. Lucien was kind enough to point to the DIICOT press release from December 14th.
A Google translated version of the press release can be found here: bit.ly/VOIPRo. For those who prefer to read their own Romanian, see here: DIICOT Press Release.
DIICOT is the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism, and they have been gaining a world-wide reputation for scooping up cyber criminals. Regular readers of this blog will know I am in the DIICOT Fan Club, as we've previously written about on several occasions, including:
23SEP2010: eBay Spear Phisher Liviu Mihail Concioiu Arrested in Romania
12APR2010: Nicolae Popescu, Romanian hacker, at large!
06APR2010: 70 Romanian Phishers & Fraudsters Arrested
16JUL2008: 22 More Romanians meet the Long Arm of the Law
On 14DEC2010, there were 42 houses searched, with 31 in Constanta, 4 in Neamt, 3 in Brasov and others in Olt, Maramures, Cluj, and Dolj counties.
From Oct 2009 to Feb 2010, Cătălin Zlate is accused of running a team of over 50 individuals to commit computer crimes and to use fraudulent access to data to commit VOIP Fraud. Team members configured a VOIP client called "ZoIPer" to allow members to place Voice Over IP calls using fraudulently obtained credentials from other VOIP services. During the period Oct 2009 to Feb 2010, they generated 23,500 calls or 315,000 minutes of long distance charges, stealing from companies in Romania, South Africa, United Kingdom, Italy, and the United States.
Zlate is no stranger to computer crime. He was actually arrested in 2009, and sentenced to 1.5 years in jail for phishing. Unfortunately, the court system in Romania allowed him to be released with a suspended sentence. While I believe Romania has some of the best investigators and some of the hardest working police officers, they also have one of the most corrupt court systems in Europe. All the police can do is keep doing their job, and pray for a change in the court system.
According to EVZ.ro, Zlate used the handle "Roşcatu" and was involved in a phishing gang with Manuel Sorin Paun, AKA "Puia", Mangue Barry, AKA "Dumbo", and Bogdan Nistor, AKA "Bobo". The four received "suspended sentences" of 2.5 years, 1.5 years, 3 years, and 3 years respectively for phishing, creating fake ATM cards, and withdrawing money from ATMs using those cards. DIICOT has been following "Roşcatu"'s exploits since at least 2006. The news of their previous conviction made the Ziu Constanta back on November 20, 2009.
Zlate came back with a passion, founding a new business in March of 2010.
That's when things really got out of hand. Through a new fraud company called "Shadow Communication Company Ltd", from February through June 12, 2010, 1,541,187 fraudulent calls were made, running up 11,094,167 minutes of talk time! The defendants were selling these fraudulently obtained minutes at about a 90% discount. While the actual costs should have been more than 11 MILLION EUROS, they actually sold the minutes for just over 1 MILLION EUROS. (Hint: If your telephone company is named something league "Shadow Communications" or "League of Evil", perhaps you should consider switching to AT&T.)
Charges brought against the group include:
- Article 7, Paragraph 1.3 - membership and support of an organized criminal group
- Article 18 Section 2 letter b of law 39/2003 - Money laundering
- Article 23 Paragraph 1 letter a, b, & c of law 656/2002 - Wireless access to a computer system to obtain data by breaching security measures
- Article 42 Paragraph 2.3 of law 161/2003 - Possession of a computer program in order to commit offenses
- Article 49 of law 161/2003 - Causing a loss of property through the introduction of computer code in order to obtain benefit for oneself or another
42 people have been brought to Bucharest to be charged of these crimes.
Here's the DIICOT video of the arrests and seizures:
Hopefully, this time the criminals will actually serve time in prison!