Man Faces 350 Years in Prison for LA Court Phishing Scam

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Texas man faces a whopping 350 years in federal prison after a jury convicted him on 27 charges related to an email phishing attack on the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The Justice Department said a federal jury convicted Oriyomi Sadiq Aloba, 33, of Katy, Texas of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and numerous other charges Thursday.

According to evidence presented at trial, Aloba and his co-conspirators orchestrated a phishing attack, compromising a court employee’s email account and sending emails to co-workers without her consent. The email looked like a message from the file-hosting site Dropbox, but was in fact contained a link to a phishing website that asked court employees to enter their superior court email addresses and passwords.

While thousands of employees received the phishing email, only hundreds took the bait and gave their personal information. But that’s all it took to send out 2 million phishing emails to other victims, who were asked to provide their banking, credit card and personal information.

The additional phishing emails masqueraded as communications from American Express, Wells Fargo and other companies. The link for a bogus American Express website used source code designating Aloba’s email account as the destination for the personal information victims input into the website.

When investigators went to arrest Aloba at his home in Texas, they found a thumb drive in a toilet, a damaged iPhone in a bathroom sink and a laptop computer with a smashed screen smeared with blood. Investigators say Aloba likely used a mug to smash his computer which then bloodied his hand. Investigators found hacking software on Aloba’s devices.

The court suffered damages including more than $45,000 paid to employees responding to the attack. Victims also suffered $15,000 in combined actual and intended losses.

Aloba will be sentenced Oct. 21 and faces a statutory maximum of 350 years in federal prison.

Co-defendant Robert Charles Nicholson, 28, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty last month to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Three additional accomplices remain at large outside the United States, according to the Justice Department.

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