'Botmaster' admits infecting 250,000 computers

A Los Angeles man on Friday admitted infecting 250,000 computers and stealing the identities of thousands of people by wiretapping their communications and accessing their bank accounts. John Schiefer, 26, agreed to plead guilty to four counts of fraud and wiretap charges that could lead to a $1.75 million fine and send him to prison for up to 60 years, the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's office said.

Prosecutors said Schiefer and an unspecified number of conspirators installed malicious computer code that acted as a wiretap on compromised computers and intercepted messages to Paypal and similar Web sites. He retrieved usernames and passwords and used them to access an unknown number of bank accounts. Prosecutors said they were still investigating the dollar amount stolen and the number of victims.

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