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Porn Dialer Case Closed

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Nov 7, 2003 12:00 AM PST    Text size: 
ITALY – An Italian suspect was arrested this week in the porn dialer scam that tricked users into clicking through on an email and activating a very pricey virus called Marq-A.

The 39-year-old hacker has been charged with fraud and virus distribution and narrowly escaped Bill Gates' bounty pledge this week that could have made some lucky tipster a very wealthy man or woman.

The suspect is said to have netted considerable amounts of money from the scam that directed email users to a website where virus code, under the guise of a screensaver based on a popular Italian television star, could be downloaded. After that point, the porn dialer began ticking away and charging users credit cards.

The subject header stated: "The moment is cathartic," which is the title of the television star's book and is widely known among Italians.

Once activated, the virus charged the phone number of the user for accessing the site at a premium-rate. Funds were first sent to a New York bank account, and then transferred to Venezuela, and then an account in the Dutch Antilles.

According to Italian authorities, the virus remained within the Italy region because the text of the message was in Italian.

The Marq-A is said by authorities to be one of the only viruses designed for direct profit, whereas most other malicious code seeks to corrupt files and wreak destruction of one type of another.

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