The Month: Global snapshots

February 28, 2007

US county treasurer arrested over fraud links; Nigeria adopts biometrics.

US: A Michigan county treasurer has been arrested after allegedlyinvesting more than $1.2 million (£615,000) of county fundsin Nigerian 419 fraud scams. Thomas Katona has been charged with forgeryand multiple counts of embezzlement. Co-workers became suspicious afterbeing warned that Katona had made unauthorised transfers to accountslinked with Nigerian 419 scams.

NETHERLANDS: A man has been found guilty of conducting a 14-month spamcampaign involving more than 9 billion spam emails. The country'stelecoms watchdog, OPTA, has fined the unnamed Dutch national EUR75,000(£50,000) for the campaign. Much of the spam was advertising onbehalf of foreign companies, according to Dutch authorities.

TURKEY: Police in Izmir have arrested 17 alleged members of a gang thatstole £154,000 from online bank accounts. Turkish media reportthat complaints from hundreds of bank customers about unexpectedwithdrawals from their accounts, promped an investigation. Authoritiesclaim the gang worked with three Russian hackers, who used spyware tosteal usernames and passwords.

RUSSIA: A court has thrown out criminal proceedings against a rural headteacher accused of using copied Microsoft software in his school. Thetrial has been seen as a reaction by authorities to increasedinternational pressure to get a grip on piracy in Russia. The court,however, dismissed the case of Alexander Ponosov as "trivial". followingthe decision.

NIGERIA: The country has turned to biometrics to help tame electionfraud. The Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission hasincorporated Digital Persona's biometric fingerprint technology into thevoter-registration process, ahead of next month's general elections. Themove is aimed at ensuring that Nigeria's 58 million eligible voters onlyvote once each.

GERMANY: Police have been banned from using covert computer spyingtechniques until proper legislation covering them has been introduced.The German Federal Court of Justice ruled that a police request to use aTrojan to spy on a suspect's PC should be refused, as data stored on acomputer differed considerably from live telephone conversations.

CHINA: Police in Hubei Province have arrested six people for viruscreation. The men allegedly wrote and spread the W32/Fujacks virus,dubbed the "Panda burning joss sticks" virus, according to news agencyXinhua. It's thought the virus was designed mainly to steal onlinegaming data. Chinese media initially hyped it as a "top computerkiller", but western AV companies downplayed the threat.

SOUTH KOREA: Two men have been arrested in relation to one of thecountry's biggest spam incidents. The men are alleged to have sent 1.6billion spam emails between September and December 2006, according toSophos. Officials claim the pair of computer programmers obtainedpersonal and financial information from 12,000 victims, which they thensold to other firms.

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