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29 May 2008, 10:38

Cunning micro-deposit fraudster not quite smart enough

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The Wired blog reports that California resident Michael Largent has been indicted for computer fraud, wire fraud and mail fraud after he netted thousands of dollars from online brokerages between November 2007 and May 2008 by opening thousands of accounts and pocketing the micro-deposits the brokerages use for enrolment authentication. His victims included E*Trade, Capital One, Metabank, Greendot, Skylight, Schwab, and, according to an affidavit but not asserted in the indictment, Google Checkout.

Largent allegedly used an automated script to open over 58,000 brokerage accounts in fictitious names, many drawn from TV cartoon series. He netted over $50,000 in less than six months using pre-paid credit cards via a cluster of online banking accounts, but was finally tracked down due to some basic mistakes. He registered around 400 accounts in his own name, his fictitious identities backfired when his bank account credentials were verified under the Patriot Act, and he opened thousands of his accounts online from a small range of IP addresses that led back to his ISP registration. He is currently on bail.

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