Microsoft Helps Put Phisher in Prison

Microsoft's Global Phishing Enforcement Initiative has netted its first criminal: 23 year-old Jayson Harris from Davenport, Iowa was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay $57,000 to victims for a phishing scheme perpetrated in 2003 and 2004.

Harris created a fraudulent MSN billing Web site and sent notices to MSN customers instructing them to update their account and billing information. Harris claimed that customers would receive a 50 percent discount off their next bill for updating their credit card data, which was then transmitted to an e-mail account.

The phishing operation lasted from January 2003 through June 2004, according to Microsoft. The Redmond company tracked down Harris through leads generated in North America and Europe, and enlisted the help of the FBI. Harris' home was raided and his computers seized after a search warrant was issued.

Harris pleaded guilty to wire fraud, fraud, and related activities in connection with access devices. Following his jail term, Harris will have three years of supervised release.

"Importantly, I think that the Harris case clearly illustrates the value of public-private partnerships in pursuing cybercriminals such as phishers," wrote Microsoft attorney Aaron Kornblum on the IEBlog.

"In fact, I’m writing this blog post from Bangkok, Thailand, where I am joining representatives of the U.S. Secret Service and other leading technology companies to share with prosecutors from across Asia about the importance of such partnerships to achieve greater impact in the fight against cybercrime."

Over 4,700 phishing sites have been taken down as a result of Microsoft actions, and the company is investing money to make its products more phishing-resistant. For example, a new phishing filter is one of the hallmark new features of Internet Explorer 7.

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