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30 May 2006

Japanese phishing ring arrested by police for fake Yahoo auction site

Criminal gang alleged to have stolen a total of 100 million yen

Phishers steal money and confidential data from internet users. Image copyright (c) Sophos
Phishers steal money and confidential data from internet users.

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have welcomed the news that Japanese authorities have arrested eight people suspected of being part of a phishing gang.

The Tokyo-based group is alleged to have stolen from approximately 700 people a total of 100 million yen (approximately $900,000) by drawing victims to a fake Yahoo Japan auction website. According to police, the gang used the stolen identities of web surfers to create fake auctions offering watches, luxury handbags, and MP3 players on the real Yahoo website, which is Japan's largest internet auction service.

However, the gang never intended to deliver the goods and kept the money that was wired to them by innocent purchasers.

34-year-old Takayuki Matsuoka and 38-year-old Akio Usami, who have been named as the ringleaders by police, have been apprehended in Tokyo. A 20-year-old man, Naoya Takahashi, was also arrested and is said to have created the fake website to steal personal data from unsuspecting web surfers. A further four other men and one woman have also been arrested.

The gang are being charged with fraud and unauthorized computer access, according to the police who say that the group has been active since June 2005.

"The Japanese police should be applauded for taking a tough stand against organized phishing criminals," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "As gangs becoming more sophisticated in the ways in which they attempt to steal information from online banking users, computer crime authorities around the world need to work more closely with each other to bring them to justice."

Sophos experts encourage all computer users to learn how to reduce the risk of being hit by a phishing attack.

"All computer users should exercise caution over the emails they open, which websites they visit, and who they give their confidential information to as they may find they are falling into a hacker's trap," continued Cluley.

Sophos recommends companies protect their desktops, servers and gateways with a consolidated solution to thwart the threats of viruses, spyware, phishing and spam.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.