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21-Year-Old Woman Pleads Guilty to Sending Phishing Emails to Political Candidates

A 21-year-old Rhode Island woman has pleaded guilty to targeting candidates for political office and their campaign staff with phishing emails.

The woman, Diana Lebeau, of Cranston, R.I., admitted in court to sending phishing emails to roughly 22 members of the campaign staff of a political candidate, posing as the campaign’s managers or co-chairs.

The emails, which were sent in January 2020, instructed recipients to either introduce their account credentials into an attached spreadsheet or to access a URL that directed the intended victims to a Google Form where they were asked to provide their credentials.

According to the United States Department of Justice, Lebeau sent phishing emails to the candidate’s spouse and to other recipients at the spouse’s workplace.

Pretending to come from Microsoft’s “Security Team” or from someone from the workplace’s technology helpdesk, the emails instructed the recipients to share account credentials and other details about their computers, either by entering them in a spreadsheet or on a website that spoofed that of the employer’s legitimate domain.

A couple of months later, the woman allegedly sent phishing emails to another candidate for political office. Claiming to have arrived from the candidate’s cable and internet provider, the emails contained a link that requested the recipient to provide credentials to address a so-called issue with their account.

The DoJ also reveals that Lebeau contacted the cable and internet provider via online chat and, impersonating the candidate, attempted to reset the candidate’s account password.

“Lebeau did not act with financial or political motive or to benefit any foreign government, instrumentality, or agent,” the DoJ says.

Scheduled for sentencing on October 26, 2021, Lebeau faces up to one year in prison, one year of supervised release, and may be fined up to $100,000.

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