Three years in prison for man who developed phishing panels

A 20-year-old man from Almelo has been sentenced by the court in The Hague to three years in prison, of which one year is conditional. He made and sold software on a large scale with which scammers could commit payment fraud. After his prison sentence, he has to participate in Hack_Right, a program where young cybercriminals are guided to use their ICT knowledge for legal purposes.

Man actively contributed to committing fraud

According to the judge, the 20-year-old man supplied phishing panels to at least 49 cybercriminals or criminal organizations and provided them with tips and advice. In doing so, he contributed to committing fraud, which resulted in major financial damage. In addition, the man himself also used his panels to commit payment fraud together with others.

A phishing panel is a software with which someone without technical knowledge can build a malicious one. Phishing panels are often used to imitate the digital environment of a bank. Scammers send victims a message asking them to log into their bank account, for example, because their account has been ‘hacked. In order to secure their savings, account holders have to temporarily put their money in a so-called vault account.

After a while, their savings are then returned to their account. The link in the message redirects victims to a fake, fake website of their bank. The information they enter here goes directly to cybercriminals, who then take over their bank account and loot it. By the time the victims find out, it’s already too late.

Convict: ‘Thanks to me, a certain quality has come’

In addition to selling phishing panels and inciting payment fraud, the man from Almelo was also guilty of money laundering. He laundered the money he earned from the sale of his panels and scams into bitcoins. During a search of his home, the police found a loaded pistol under his desk chair.

During the trial, the prosecutor said that the man’s actions have seriously damaged confidence in banks. “That damage was mainly suffered by the banks, but more importantly, because of cybercrime and the suspect’s panels, confidence in the payment system is declining. And that trust is very important in a digital society.”

The man convicted by the court is proud of what he has done. “Thanks to me, a certain quality has come about” and “I have set the standard in the Netherlands,” he said, among other things, during the handling of his case.

Judge deviates from a sentence from Public Prosecution Service

Because of the social impact, the Public Prosecution Service demanded four years in prison, a fine of 50,000 euros and a confiscation order of 40,000 euros. That is a penalty that a suspect has to pay to take away the profits he has made from his criminal past. After all, crime should not pay, or so the thinking goes.

However, the court in The Hague has come to a different penalty. The judge has ruled that the man will receive a prison sentence of three years, of which one year is suspended. His young age played a prominent role in the sentencing. “The suspect is still a young man. He is now 20 years old, at the time of the proven facts he was 18 and 19. So he still has a whole life ahead of him and must be given the opportunity to rehabilitate and to give his life a turn for the better,” according to the court.

The condition is that the man participates in Hack_Right after his prison sentence. This is a program that has been set up by the police to prevent recidivism of young, convicted cybercriminals and to help them use their talents and ICT knowledge for good. The court finds the imposition of a fine ‘neither appropriate nor appropriate’.

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