US regulators said on Monday they had charged a 17-year-old boy with using "spam" e-mails and a fake AOL Web page to trick people out of their credit card information and steal thousands of dollars.
Officials at the Federal Trade Commission said they had agreed to settle their case against the teen-ager, who was not identified because of his age, after he agreed to pay back $3,500 he had stolen, and to submit to a lifetime ban on sending spam.
In the case cited on Monday, the teenager's e-mails told recipients they needed to update their AOL billing information and instructed them to click on a hyperlink connected to the "AOL Billing Center."
The link diverted people to a phony AOL Web site that contained the company's logo and links to real AOL Web pages, the FTC alleged. There, they were instructed to enter their credit card numbers, along with their mothers' maiden names, billing addresses, social security numbers, bank routing numbers, credit limits, personal identification numbers and AOL screen names and passwords.
The teen-ager used his newfound information to go on an online shopping spree, the government charged, and to log on to AOL in his victims' names and send more spam. He also recruited other people to take delivery of fraudulently obtained merchandise he had ordered.
News source: Reuters