FBI Arrest California Zombie Profiteer

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A 20 year-old was taken into federal custody and accused of compromising 400,000 computers with adware, and letting others use the zombie machines to send spam or launch denial of service attacks.

Jeanson Ancheta faces 17 federal counts of various crimes including conspiracy and money laundering. He has been accused of using a Trojan program to install ‘bots’ on computers, and placing adware from two companies on thousand of machines illegally, a Reuters report said.

The adware companies GammaCash and 180solutions did not know Ancheta was violating their affiliate agreements with his installations. Wired News said officially these adware programs are supposed to inform users when they are being installed.

Unsurprisingly, people can and do violate those terms to profit from the affiliate programs. Ancheta began making money in November 2004, netting over $58,000 during the life of his crimes.

He also made around $3,000 by allowing others to use the zombie network he’d created to send out massive amounts of junk email, or to create denial of service attacks aimed at other systems. Money went toward buying a used BMW and more servers.

Federal prosecutors claim Ancheta is a member of the “Botmaster Underground,” a network of zombie machine users. A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s office said Ancheta’s arrest was the first in the US where the botnet creator did it for financial gain instead of just bragging rights.

The FBI arrested Ancheta after getting him to visit their offices under the pretext of picking up computer equipment confiscated in an earlier raid. He faces a maximum of 50 years in prison, but would likely serve less time under federal sentencing guidelines.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

FBI Arrest California Zombie Profiteer
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