Pump and dump hacker sentenced

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A man who hacked into the internet accounts of stock brokers has been sentenced to two years in jail.

As part of an international fraud ring, 35-year-old Thirugnanam Ramanathan, a native of India and legal resident of Malaysia, hacked into the internet accounts of American brokers, sold the victims' holdings and bought shares in lightly-traded stocks pumping up their price.

He and his accomplices had previously purchased the same stocks for their own brokerage accounts, and after manipulating the stock price, swiftly dumped their own holdings for a profit.

Two other defendants, Jaisankar Marimuthu and Chockalingam Ramanathan (a resident of Chennai), have also been indicted. Marimuthu is being detained in a Hong Kong prison awaiting extradition following his conviction on similar offences related to the Hong Kong stock market. Chockalingam Ramanathan remains at large.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said in a statement: “This gang didn't use the old trick of pumping up the price of a dormant stock with spam messages, encouraging people to buy shares in a stock whose price was going to be manipulated. Instead they cut out the middle man -- doing the purchasing of the stock through their victims' own compromised accounts. A heist like this was nothing less than audacious -- and, if successful, could have netted the criminals a fortune.”

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