Australian teenagers arrested in global internet banking scam, Sophos comments

January 06, 2005 Sophos Press Release

According to Australian media reports, four Sydney-based high school students, aged 15 to 17, have been charged with helping an organised criminal gang to steal millions of pounds from online bank accounts, in a global internet banking scam operating from Australia to Eastern Europe. Nine more suspects have also been arrested, including two men who are alleged to be ringleaders of the international crime gang's Australian operation.

According to the reports, the criminals used bogus adverts and spam emails that secretly installed backdoor Trojans onto computers in order to capture passwords and other bank details. The Australian teenagers were then recruited as "mules" to aid in the transfer of stolen funds into Eastern European-based bank accounts.

"Criminal gangs are getting more and more sophisticated with their tricks to make millions of pounds out of innocent people; tempting naive teenagers with the opportunity of making a quick buck is another one of their schemes," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "It's reassuring to all online bank customers that these criminals are being uncovered and charged, however, users should still be on their guard when banking online."

Sophos has produced a guide to help online bank customers avoid becoming victims of these phishing attacks. Sophos has produced a guide to help online bank customers avoid becoming victims of these phishing attacks.

Computer users should also be on their guard against unwittingly becoming mules in one of these internet scams. Compromised accounts can easily be accessed by criminals to help launder money. Further information on how to avoid being a money mule can be found here.