[ISN] E.V. men accused in computer hacking ring

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Thu Nov 4 03:12:41 EST 2004


By Bryon Wells
November 3, 2004

Two Scottsdale men and a Tempe resident are accused of being
"high-ranking" operatives of a computer hacking and fraud ring that
trafficked in 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers totaling $4
million in losses.
In its yearlong investigation, the U.S. Secret Service and other law
enforcement agencies infiltrated the ring, which operated Web sites
with names such as Shadowcrew.com and Darkprofits.com to facilitate
criminal activity among at least 4,000 members of the network.

Andrew Montavani and Brandon L. Monchamp of Scottsdale, described as
architects of the network, and Phillip Kresler of Tempe, were three of
21 people arrested late last month in the United States. There were
several other indictments in foreign countries, according to the
Secret Service.

"Identity theft carries a heavy price, both in the damage to
individuals whose identities are stolen and the enormous cost to
America's businesses," said Attorney General John Ashcroft in a
release. "This indictment strikes at the heart of an organization that
is alleged to have served as a one-stop marketplace for identity

Montavani, Monchamp and Kresler were arrested after a raid on their
homes Oct. 26. Items taken included computers, computer disks and
other equipment, as well as blank credit card plastics, an embosser,
credit cards, false identification cards and bank receipts, according
to court records.

The Web sites are now inaccessible or contain a warning message from
the Secret Service, intended "For those who wish to play in the

"Several arrests have been made with many more to follow."

Members of the network communicated via message boards and chat rooms
on the Web sites to exchange hacking techniques and buy and sell
fraudulent credit cards, false IDs, passports and birth certificates -
even Arizona driver's licenses and Arizona State University student
IDs in Kresler's case.

The hackers had numerous schemes with their own terminology to define

For example, "carding" refers to going on a shopping spree with
counterfeit cards.

"Phishing" is spamming several e-mail addresses with dummy links to
replicas of legitimate Web sites such as eBay and Citibank to trick
the victim into giving up personal information, and "Printing" refers
to manufacturing fake credit cards.

A confidential informant, described only as a "high-ranking" member of
Shadowcrew, had been helping the Secret Service with the investigation
since August 2003. The informant entered into a plea with the
government and will be criminally charged for their involvement.

The Secret Service began tailing Montavani on July 7 at his home in
the 4200 block of North Miller Road in Scottsdale, and later learned
that Monchamp lived there.

Montavani's specialty was "banging out ATMs," which refers to getting
cash from automated teller machines through fake cards. Monchamp, aka
"Kingpin," was able to emboss and encode fake credit cards, and also
had access to MasterCard, Bank One and Capital One hologram labels.

Most of those arrested, including Monchamp, Montavani and Kresler,
were extradited to New Jersey, where the complaint originated.

The government touted the case as an example of how the Justice
Department will continue to aggressively prosecute these crimes.

"Identity theft by organized groups like Shadowcrew is a particularly
insidious crime," said assistant attorney general Christopher A. Wray.  
"Victims have their identities stolen and their credit ratings ruined.  
Identity theft defrauds banks and businesses of millions of dollars
every year, endangering economic security and undermining consumer

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