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AOL credit card scammer receives four years in jail

A Connecticut man who admitted to using stolen personal data from AOL customers to create counterfeit credit cards was sentenced to four years in prison.

Charlie Blount Jr., 25, of West Haven, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty in September 2006 to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with access devices, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut said in a news release.

Authorities said Blount was part of a sophisticated, multipronged phishing scheme targeting users of AOL.

Thousands of AOL subscribers were spammed with what appeared to be electronic greeting cards, prosecutors said. If users clicked to view the bogus card, their machines were infected with a trojan. The malware prevented the users from again signing into AOL without first entering their personal financial data, such as credit card, bank account, PIN and Social Security number.

The accused individuals then used that information to create counterfeit debit cards, which they used to receive cash at ATMs and make purchases both online and at retail shops, prosecutors said. Blount admitted in 2005 that he possessed one of the devices used to make the bogus cards.

One of Blount's co-conspirators, Michael Doland, 24, was sentenced to seven years in prison in August 2008 for orchestrating the operation, which lasted between 2002 and 2006. His attorney said in a sentencing memo that Doland suffered from mental illness because his father committed suicide and brother went to war.

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