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Romanian Indicted in Hacking Scheme

August 06, 2004|From Associated Press

A Romanian man has been indicted by a grand jury that charged him and five Americans with a $10-million scheme to steal goods from a computer equipment distributor.

The indictment returned Wednesday accuses Calin Mateias, 24, of Bucharest, of hacking into the online ordering system of Santa Ana-based Ingram Micro Inc. and posing as a legitimate customer to place more than 2,000 orders over four years.

Computers and equipment were shipped to Romania or to people in the U.S. who had been recruited in Internet chat rooms to send the equipment or the proceeds from its sale to Mateias, the indictment alleged.

"It's larger than your average computer hacking case. It's a lot more damage," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Wesley Hu.

Mateias, who was charged with conspiracy and 13 counts of mail fraud, is in Romania and is not in custody, officials said.

The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said the Justice Department was working with Romanian authorities to "ensure Mateias is brought to justice, whether in Romania or the United States."

Also charged with mail fraud are Olufemi Tinubu, 21, and Tarion Finley, 20, of Atlanta; Valeriu Crisovan, 27, of Hallandale, Fla.; Jeremy Long, 28, of Richmond, Va.; and Warren Bailey, 21, of Anchorage.

Each will be issued a summons to appear this month in federal court in Los Angeles.

Authorities searched Mateias' home in Romania in April, but prosecutors declined to say what was found. They also would not say how they believe he hacked into the online ordering system of Ingram Micro, a wholesale computer and equipment company.

A spokeswoman for the company -- the world's largest computer equipment distributor, with $22.6 billion in sales last year -- did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Mateias, who faces a maximum of 90 years in prison if convicted on all counts, has long been known as a computer hacker who uses the pseudonyms "Dr. Mengele" and "Metal."

Authorities allege that Mateias hacked into Ingram Micro's online ordering system in 1999. The company blocked shipments to Romania, so he recruited Americans to accept the merchandise, officials say.

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