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Phisher Pleads Guilty in CT

Michael Dolan pleaded guilty to federal charges related to participation in an elaborate phishing scheme that targeted AOL subscribers

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Kevin J. O'Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that MICHAEL DOLAN, age 23, formerly of West Haven, Connecticut and North Miami Beach, Florida, pleaded guilty today to federal charges related to his participation in an elaborate internet "phishing" scheme that targeted and victimized America Online subscribers. Today, DOLAN pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with access devices, and one count of aggravated identity theft.

According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, from approximately 2002 through 2006, DOLAN conspired with others to obtain names, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security account numbers, and other private personal and financial information through an internet "spamming" and "phishing" scheme that targeted AOL subscribers. "Phishing" is the act of sending fraudulent email in an attempt to scam individuals into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The scheme involved the use of software to collect AOL account names from chat rooms and to "spam" those accounts with counterfeit emails, including emails purporting to convey electronic greeting cards from Hallmark.com. Through this scheme, an AOL subscriber who attempted to open one of the purported greeting cards would unwittingly download a software trojan that would prevent the subscriber from accessing AOL without first entering information including the subscriber's name, credit card number, bank account number, and Social Security account number. The subscriber's information would then be used by DOLAN and others to order products online and to produce counterfeit debit cards, which were used at ATM machines and retail outlets such as gas stations.

"Federal law enforcement, with the cooperation of our state and local partners and internet service providers, are committed to investigating and prosecuting internet phishing and other identity theft schemes that wreak havoc on the lives of their victims," U.S. Attorney O'Connor stated.

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