- Donald Rumsfeld has ‘no idea’ if he paid taxes correctly
- Bradley Manning named honorary grand marshal of San Francisco Pride parade
- Look out PayPal: Facebook working toward mobile payments system
- U.S. rebukes Iran’s U.N. envoy pick over 1979 embassy attack
- Stoned mom avoids jail after driving 12 miles with baby on roof
- More than 100 ‘inappropriate’ encounters between NYC school staffers, students since 2009: report
- Joe Biden to Boston bombing survivors: ‘America will never, ever stand down’
- FBI failed to throughly vet Boston bombing suspect after Russian lead, report finds
- Atlanta Braves flooded with Hank Aaron hate mail: He’s a ‘scumbag’
- University: Help, our campus is too white
Romania becoming hub for cyber-crime
BUCHAREST, Romania — It was nearly 70 degrees below zero outside, but the e-mail on a computer at the South Pole Research Center sent a different kind of chill through the scientists inside.
“I’ve hacked into the server. Pay me off or I’ll sell the station’s data to another country and tell the world how vulnerable you are,” the message warned.
Proving it was no hoax, the message included scientific data showing that the extortionist had roamed freely around the server, which controlled the 50 researchers’ life-support systems.
The FBI traced the e-mail to an Internet cafe in Bucharest and helped Romanian police arrest two suspects — the latest evidence that computer-savvy Romanians are fast emerging as a bold menace in the shadowy world of cyber-crime.
“It’s one of the leading places for this kind of activity,” said Gabrielle Burger, who runs the FBI’s office in Bucharest and is working with Romanian authorities to arrest cyber-baddies “and avoid the September 11 of cyber-crime.”
Law enforcement documents portray a loosely organized but increasingly aggressive network of young Romanians conspiring with accomplices in Europe and the United States to steal millions of dollars each year from consumers and companies.
Their specialties: defrauding consumers through bogus Internet purchases, extorting cash from companies after hacking into their systems, and designing and disseminating computer-crippling worms and viruses.
Alarmed authorities say the South Pole case underscores the global impact of this new breed of cyber-outlaw.
“Frustrated with the employment possibilities offered in Romania, some of the world’s most-talented computer students are exploiting their talents online,” the U.S.-based Internet Fraud Complaint Center, run by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, said in a recent report.
Computer crime flourished in Romania because the country lacked a cyber-crime law until this year, when it enacted what might be the world’s harshest. The new law punishes convicts with up to 15 years in prison — more than twice the maximum for rape.
Varujan Pambuccian, a lawmaker and former programmer, helped draft the new law after Romania’s government realized that the country, which is moving to join the European Union by 2007, was getting a bad online reputation.
“We want a good name for our country,” he said. “I’m very angry that Romania is so well-known for ugly things — for street dogs, street children and hackers.” Mr. Pambuccian said there was a noticeable decline in criminal activity in the first three months after the law took effect.
More than 60 Romanians have been arrested in recent joint operations involving the FBI, Secret Service, Scotland Yard, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and numerous European police agencies.
They include the two suspects implicated in the South Pole extortion attempt last May. Both are awaiting trial. Another Romanian pair was arrested on suspicion of extorting cash from Integrity Media of Mobile, Ala., after information on 30,000 credit-card accounts was stolen in March.
By returning to goodness, the nation can achieve greatness once again
- Fuel-filled wings, ability to swarm: Pentagon offers glimpse at future of drone fleet
- Secret U.S. assessments show Afghanistan not ready to govern on own
- U.S. military on high alert as Ukraine troops trade gunfire with pro-Russian militants
- Russian fighter jet buzzes U.S. Navy destroyer in Black Sea
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Kirsten Dunst: Actress sparks feminist ire: 'You need a man to be a man'
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
- PHILLIPS: What did Harry Reid know and when did he know it?
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes