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Point-of-Sale Hacker Gets Seven Years In Prison

Two Romanian Nationals Plead Guilty to Hacking into and Stealing Payment Card Data from Hundreds of Point of Sale Systems

Two hackers who took part in a hacking scheme that involved more than 146,000 compromised cards leading to more than $10 million in losses, pleaded guilty today in a New Hampshire court. One agreed to spend seven years behind bars, while the other agreed to spend 21-months locked up.

Iulian Dolan and Cezar Butu, both Romanian nationals, admitted that between 2009 and 2011, they cooperated with co-conspirator Adrian-Tiberiu Oprea, who is awaiting trial after being extradited to the U.S. in May, to hack into hundreds of U.S.-based point of sale (POS) systems to steal credit and debit card numbers and then use the stolen payment card data to make unauthorized charges or sell the stolen card data to others who would do the same.

Victims of the attacks include more than 150 Subway restaurants across the United States, as well as more than 50 other identified retailers.

Dolan pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and Butu pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud.

Dolan admitted that he, along with Oprea, remotely hacked into U.S. merchants’ point-of-sale systems that stored payment card data.

To conduct the attacks, Dolan first remotely scanned the Internet to find vulnerable POS systems with certain remote desktop software applications (RDAs) installed on them. Using these RDAs, Dolan remotely logged onto the targeted POS systems, often cracking passwords when needed to gain administrative access. After compromising a system, he would install keyloggers or sniffers that would record and store data that was keyed into or swiped through the merchants’ POS systems.

According to the Department of Justice, Dolan periodically remotely hacked back into the compromised merchants’ POS system to retrieve the customers’ payment card data and then electronically transferred the payment card data to various electronic storage locations (“dump sites”) that Oprea had set up. Dolan reportedly stole payment card data belonging to approximately 6,000 cardholders.

In his plea agreement, Butu admitted that he repeatedly asked Oprea to provide him with stolen payment card data and that Oprea told him how to access the server where Oprea had stored the stolen payment card data. Butu later attempted to use the stolen payment card data to make fraudulent charges or transfers of funds from the accounts and also attempted to sell the stolen payment card data to others. Butu acquired stolen payment card data from Oprea belonging to approximately 140 cardholders, the Department of Justice said.

In his plea agreement, Dolan has agreed to be sentenced to seven years, and Butu agreed to be sentenced to 21 months in prison.

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.