Just the other day we learned that LinkedIn was hacked to the extent of some 6.5 million compromised user passwords. Then we learned that eHarmony, the dating website, got hit too. Of course, "Street Sweeper" readers are all too familiar with my coverage of these hacking, phishing, vishing, malware, and trojan invasions of our online world. By now, it's safe to assume that no one is really safe. Citibank. Bank of America. Visa, American Express. If you can think of some place where you have private information and an online account, they've probably been hit or put up one hell of a fight protecting their computers.
Okay, now back to the online wars - this time, a full frontal assault.
On June 7, 2012, 14 defendants were named in an Indictment in the Southern District of Florida alleging yet another scheme to steal funds from online banking accounts. The defendants are residents of either Miami or Hialeah, FL. Eight of the 14 defendants are under the age of 30 - and they say that young people today can't find work!:
Ibrahin Elias, 24, Hialeah;
Dalbert Hernandez, 22, Miami;
Victor Batista, 22, Hialeah;
Roger Lores, 23, Hialeah;
Aniuta Castro-Ruiz, 53, Hialeah;
Dayan Galarraga, 40, Hialeah;
Yanelis Curbera, 34, Hialeah;
Dalmis Gonzalez, 30, Hialeah;
Yoleisy Legarde, 29, Miami;
Howard Mitchell, 27, Miami;
Yovani Gonzalez, 26, Miami;
Idalma Chaskel Kessel, 45, Hialeah;
Maribel Perez, 23, Hialeah; and
Edisbel Rodriguez, 36, Miami.
NOTE: An indictment is only an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The Indictment alleges that Ibrahin Elias stole from bank customers personal identification information such as their names, birthdates, and Social Security numbers. Armed with this data, Elias allegedly logged on to various banks' online account pages and by impersonating the customers with the stolen information, he gained access to their accounts.
After breaking into the accounts, Elias allegedly transferred funds to the accounts of accomplices, or he ordered checks which were used to drain victims' accounts.
Elias is charged with:
- conspiring to commit bank fraud;
- 16 counts of substantive bank fraud;
- three counts of aggravated identity theft; and
- one count for destruction of evidence.
The indictment alleges that defendants Dalbert Hernandez and Victor Batista received stolen funds and recruited others to participate in the scheme, for which they are charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud, and Batista is charged with four substantive bank fraud counts.
Defendants Roger Lores, Aniuta Castro-Ruiz, Dayan Galarraga, Yanelis Curbera, and Dalmis Gonzalez allegedly received stolen funds by means of electronic online transfers and, in the spirit of budding entrepreneurism, apparently charged a fee for this service. Following receipt of the stolen funds, they and others made withdrawals from different locations. At that point, the Indictment alleges that some divvying up of the booty occurred by which these defendants took their cut but returned the bulk of the proceeds to their handlers. These defendants are charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud and substantive bank fraud violations.
Bringing up the rear, defendants Yoleisy Legarde, Howard Mitchell, Yovani Gonzalez, Idalma Chaskel Kessel, Maribel Perez, and Edisbel Rodriguez, are alleged to have cashed defendant Elias's stolen checks They are charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud and substantive bank fraud violations.
If convicted, each defendant charged with conspiracy and bank fraud violations faces a potential maximum statutory sentence of 30 years in prison.
Additionally, Elias faces mandatory consecutive two-year sentences for each conviction for aggravated identity theft and a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for attempting to destroy evidence.