Michael Dolan, 24, who also lived in North Miami Beach, Fla., pleaded guilty last August to orchestrating a four-year-long phishing scam that stole names and Social Security, credit card and bank account numbers from unsuspecting users, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Hartford, Conn. said Wednesday in a news release.
Dolan and five co-conspirators used automated software to troll AOL chat rooms from 2002 and 2006, where they collected account names. Phishing emails were then delivered to these members' accounts.
The messages claimed to include a Hallmark greeting card but actually contained a trojan, prosecutors said. If subscribers attempted to click on the e-card link, they would be unable to access AOL without first entering in sensitive credentials, such as names and Social Security numbers.
Dolan and his co-defendants used the stolen information to order merchandise online and create counterfeit debit cards, which were used to access cash at ATM machines and purchase gas and other items, prosecutors said.
On Sept. 26, 2006, federal authorities caught Dolan with the private and financial information of 96 people, the U.S. Department of Justice has said. He has since pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with access devices and one count of aggravated identity theft.
This is not the first time Dolan will have done time in prison. In April 2006, he was sentenced to nine months after a District Court judge in New York ruled that Dolan had violated numerous provisions of his probation, which he received in 2004 after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of accessing a protected computer.
His Connecticut attorney, James Pickerstein, told SCMagazineUS.com on Thursday that he had no comment. But in a sentencing memo, the defense said U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Thompson should take into account that Dolan was previously diagnosed with "severe mental illness," that his father committed suicide and that his brother and brother-in-law recently were deployed to the Persian Gulf.
"The death of his father by his own hand, combined with many other factors beyond his control, have caused Mr. Dolan into making many poor decisions that now put him in the precarious position he finds himself," the memo said.
Prosecutors disagreed, saying Dolan had a clear disrespect for the law. They petitioned the judge for an additional five years in prison, according to a separate sentencing memo.
A second defendant, Keith Riedel, 21, of Winter Haven, Fla., pleaded guilty in August to the scam and was sentenced on Wednesday to time previously served. A third member of the gang, Daniel Mascia, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 10. Three other cohorts -- Charlie Blount Jr., Richard D'Andrea and Thomas Taylor Jr. -- are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 31.
An AOL spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.