Perils of passwords exposed in Internet theft case

A master computer hacker preyed on human nature to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from unwary internet users, say the prosecutors in Kansas City. They claim that Mustafa Sael used a common mistake made by many – with the same username and password on multiple online accounts – in order to reap huge rewards at the expense of hundreds of victims.

“Some aspects of Mustafa’s scheme very complex and technical and computer skills required are substantial, and others were shockingly easy and provide a warning for unwary Internet users,” said prosecutors. On Monday during a four-hour sentencing in federal court, she outlined the extensive investigation that stretched from Gladstone in the Middle East and involved victims from California to New Jersey. U.S.

District Judge Fernando Gaitan took the case under advisement additional legal research on the length of the sentence Mustafa, 42, after he should have obtained guilty to mail fraud aid. Prosecutors seek 15-year sentence for Mustafa, who they say played a major role in the criminal enterprise to steal the victim more than 250 people and in the order and attempted theft of more than $ 700,000. Mustafa’s lawyer asked for a sentence of about two years, arguing in court documents that he did not the organizers of the crime and prosecutors on the charges against him of the other, the previously convicted will not be loaded.

According to court records and testimony Monday in U.S. District Court, began the investigation in Gladstone, when police were contacted by security officials purchased from Hy-Vee on suspicious gift card. Gladstone police contacted U.S. postal inspectors, the people that their credit card information was used to allow purchases they did not want to make interviewed said. A search warrant was sent to an address in Gladstone in April 2009, where some of these gift cards were delivered served.

passwords exposed

Mustafa and were found two more, identified in court papers as unindicted co-conspirator who live there. Investigators seized several computers and other records. One of these co-conspirators testified Monday that she met Mustafa online in 2006 and he led them into the computer hacking scheme. The woman said she made several trips to visit him in Jordan using tickets he received fraudulently. They said she looked into his computer hacking from an Internet cafe to get involved.

The woman, who said despite that they will be indicted for their role in the crime agreed to testify, several other members of her family said in the criminal activities that went to Mustafa to their house Gladstone continued in January 2009 were involved. According to the case presented by prosecutors, Mustafa hacked into websites of several companies, including the Capital Grille restaurant chain. He accessed e-mails, passwords, and password reminder questions like “What is your mother’s maiden name is?”

Customers were provided that information when they registered to websites for things like company newsletters, so a reservation, purchasing a gift card or receive e-coupons. “That’s where Mustafa often exploited a weakness in Internet users,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Wolesky The structure of the system. “Mustafa counted on the human vulnerability that people are often the same passwords for multiple accounts.” Armed with the information, Mustafa then logged on the websites of the major credit card companies and begin to test whether the stolen information tailored customer information on those sites. “It is appalling that worked on and off,” said Wolesky. Once access to credit card accounts has been won, it was used to gift cards and

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