Five Convicted in Connection with Operation “˜Phish Phry'

Five people were convicted last week of federal charges for their roles in an international phishing scam that used spam emails and bogus websites to collect personal information that was used to defraud U.S. banks, according to FBI’s Los Angeles field office.

The five found guilty were among 53 defendants charged in the fall of 2009 as part of Operation “Phish Phry,“ a multinational investigation conducted in the United States and Egypt that led to charges against 100 individuals. So far, 46 people have been convicted in federal court in Los Angeles as a result of the operation.

Operation Phish Phry revealed how Egyptian-based hackers obtained bank account numbers and related personal identification information from bank customers through phishing. Bank customers who received the spam were directed to legitimate-appearing websites purporting to be linked to financial institutions, where the customers were asked to enter their account numbers, passwords and other personal identification information.

After collecting victims' bank account information, the hackers broke into accounts at two banks. Once they accessed the accounts, the Egypt-based individuals coordinated the illicit online transfer of funds from the compromised accounts to newly created fraudulent accounts.

Last week’s convictions include Michelle Merzi, 25, who was found guilty of conspiracy, computer fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft; Tramond S. Davis, 21, who was found guilty of conspiracy; Shontovia D. Debose, 22, who was found guilty of conspiracy; Anthony Donnel Fuller, 22, who was found guilty of conspiracy and bank fraud; and Me Arlene Settle, 22, who was found guilty of conspiracy and bank fraud.

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