A US individual has been sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to repay $57,000 for launching a phishing scam against MSN subscribers.
21 year-old Jayson Harris from Iowa was found guilty of sending emails to MSN customers that directed them to a fake website in order to steal personal information.
Using a computer at his grandfather's house to launch the attack, Harris built an 'identikit' version of the real MSN site in an attempt to fool users into thinking they were entering their sensitive data safely.
Working with the FBI, security officials at Microsoft tracked Harris by following an electronic trail which reached as far as Austria.
After launching a legal suit, Microsoft won a default judgment of $3m in December 2005, but it was felt unlikely that the firm would ever see the money as Harris's only legal source of income was from working at a Blockbuster video rental store.
"It is essential that anyone who uses the internet should be properly defended against the increasing amount of criminal activity we are seeing online," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.
"A strong message needs to be sent out by the authorities that they are not going to turn a blind eye to phishers and identity fraudsters."
- Can you spot a phishing email? Take the Phishing IQ Test here
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