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Suspected Czech phishing mule busted
Published: 2006-04-14

Law enforcement authorities in Prague charged a man with assisting in fraud, after arresting him at a bank where he allegedly attempted to pick up cash wired to him by phishing victims.

The man--thought to be a middleman, or "mule," used by a phishing gang to pick up proceeds of the scam--is the first to be arrested for such crimes in the Czech Republic, according to newspaper accounts and a statement released by antivirus firm Sophos. The man had allegedly tried to withdraw tens of thousands of Czech Crowns (Koruna), equivalent to thousands of U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate.

"The Czech police deserves congratulations for investigating this case and making its first phishing arrest," Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, said in the statement. "But this is just an opening move in a long game, and we also need to see firm action taken against the phisher kings."

The scam targeted Citibank customers, who sent details of their account information to the phishing gang in response to their fraudulent e-mails. European banks have become popular phishing targets in the past year. Many other scams aim for customers of smaller banks, who may not be as suspicious of e-mail messages appearing to be from their bank.

Banks in the United Kingdom and elsewhere have started delaying some transactions by a day in an attempt to foil the phishing gangs' transfers of money.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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