Money Matters - Simplified

NH man gets 7 years for hacking conspiracy

Last April Pala admitted to hacking German citizens’ computers and infecting them with software that forced their modems to automatically dial premium phone numbers for a short period of time.

Asu Pala's business idea was to set up premium telephone numbers in Germany and install unwanted dial-up software on PCs to automatically call these numbers. Though he raked in US$8 million, not everyone involved in illegal business can escape law.

Pala, the New Hampshire man, has been awarded 82 months in federal prison for his role in computer hacking conspiracy and failure to file income tax returns.

The 37-year-old “pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and five counts of failure to file a United States income tax return,” states District of Massachusetts' press release.

The documents filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, also state that he hired software developers who wrote and tested the computer hacking software, which were also sent to his co-conspirators.

How the scam worked
Last April Pala admitted to hacking German citizens’ computers and infecting them with software that forced their modems to automatically dial premium phone numbers for a short period of time.

The phone numbers, which were rented from German phone companies, were similar to 1-900 numbers used in the United States.

"The victims were generally unaware that their computers' telephone modems were calling these numbers and charging them with expenses," stated the U.S. Department of Justice.'

As many telephone owners did not notice the calls on their bills, the added charges were paid by them.

The telephone companies then sent the added charges to premium telephone line renters, who divided the proceeds among the co-conspirators including Pala.

Prosecutors claim that Pala ran the hacking scheme between 2003 and 2007, thus cheating nearly 250 victims from Germany and other European countries.

The documents filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, also state that he hired software developers who wrote and tested the computer hacking software, which were also sent to his co-conspirators.

Court's verdict
For the offense, the Turkish immigrant has been sentenced to nearly 7 years in jail. His prison term will be followed by 2 years of supervised release and $12,500 fine.

Further, the U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton ordered Pala to forfeit $7.9 million and pay $2.2 million in back taxes, according to the Department of Justice.

Apart from this, he has also been ordered to undergo counseling for substance abuse, gambling, anger management, credit card, and other financial problems.

The federal authorities have also seized more than three-dozen pieces of computer equipments.

Given break for co-operation
Though Pala has been sentenced to nearly 7 years, he was given break for co-operating with the authorities.

He helped the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in tracking the Trojan downloader scam. He also secretly worked on a scam to track the men who were the brains behind the scam. But Pala was not able to fix a meeting with them.

If the sting would have worked, it would have reduced his prison term, stated his lawyer Geoffrey Nathan.