Japanese phisher gets suspended sentence

A Japanese man received a 22-month prison sentence after he created a fake website of Yahoo Japan in order to steal personal information from users of that portal. The sentence was suspended for four years.

42-year-old Kazuma Yabuno created the bogus portal in February 2005, and obtained the account names and passwords of Yahoo members in order to gain illegal access to their private email.

Yabuno, a former computer systems engineer, was sentenced by Judge Mitsuaki Takayama who said that the sentencing took into account that "[Yabuno] did not use the stolen information to commit other crimes."

"This case is significant, because it is the first time a phisher has been convicted in Japan," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Some will raise eyebrows at the leniency of the sentence as the middle-aged culprit has effectively got away with it. One wonders if he had broken into hundreds of houses, and not stolen any belongings, whether he would have escaped with a slap on the wrist."

Cluley urged courts around the world to be "more consistent in how they punish phishers, scammers, virus writers and hackers."

At the start of the month SC reported there were half as many phishing emails spammed in July compared to June.

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