Crime & Justice

LA man charged in international identity theft scheme after being caught in 'Operation Phish Phry'

A phishing attempt, impersonating the IRS.
A phishing attempt, impersonating the IRS.

The phishing expedition is over for Jonathan Clark, a Los Angeles resident who is the suspected ringleader of an international Internet-based criminal network dealing in identity fraud.

Clark pleaded guilty to money laundering, computer fraud and conspiracy for using spam emails and bogus websites to collect personal information used to defraud American banks.

He was sentenced Monday to 40 months in prison.

Prosecutors say the ring used a technique called “phishing." Egypt-based hackers would send out bogus emails that looked like they came from banks, tricking victims into entering their passwords. Runners in the U.S. would then set up bank accounts where the funds stolen from the compromised accounts could be transferred and withdrawn.

A portion of the illegally obtained funds withdrawn were then transferred via wire services to the Egyptian co-conspirators who had originally provided the bank account information obtained via phishing.

Clark was only one of 100 suspects nabbed by the feds during "Operation Phish Phry," a multi-national investigation that spanned the United States and Egypt.

The investigation brought in the largest number of defendants ever charged in a cybercrime case, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.