FTC: 'Phishing' Costs Minor Defendant $3,500

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A minor who used spam dressed up as an America Online e-mail to fool consumers into divulging credit card numbers and other personal data has agreed to pay $3,500 to settle deception charges, the Federal Trade Commission said yesterday.


The defendant sent e-mails to consumers saying they needed to update billing information on their AOL accounts because of a problem, or risk losing their Internet access and accounts, according to the FTC.


Consumers who clicked through the e-mail found a site that bore AOL's logo, type style, colors and links to AOL pages and asked for their names, mother's maiden name, billing addresses, Social Security numbers, bank routing numbers, credit limits, PINs, screen names and card numbers, the FTC said.


Using the information, the defendant made online purchases, opened PayPal accounts and used consumer AOL accounts to send more spam, according to the FTC. He also recruited others to receive merchandise he ordered.


The complaint marked the first time the agency targeted such a scam, known as "phishing," the FTC said. Along with the payment, the unnamed defendant agreed to a permanent ban from sending spam and committing violations of the FTC Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.


In a report on the complaint, The Associated Press identified the defendant as a 17-year-old boy from California.


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