back to article Man pockets $8m running computer fraud ring

A New Hampshire man has admitted pocketing almost $8 million in a scheme that infected people's computers with software that forced their modems to surreptitiously dial premium phone numbers. Asu Pala, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and five counts of failing to filed a US income tax …


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  1. Oninoshiko
    Thumb Up

    WTG US!

    "10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or twice the gain or loss on each count. He will also be required to pay restitution to each of the known victims and to the Internal Revenue Service."

    Normally when we see these stories, I find myself doing the math and concluding "crime does pay." I hope more get nailed with these kind of fines for this type of scumbaggery!

    1. RussellM


      $250,000 is only one of the options.

      What about the 10 years in prison?

      What about being fined twice the gain?

      What about also having to repay everyone who can be identified?

      "crime does pay" - but only if you don't do the math very well.

      1. Oninoshiko

        Re: RussellM

        My math is clearly better then your reading comprehension.

        If you ACTUALLY read my post, I was prasing this ruling becasue the fines exceeded the net income..

        Contrast with the a story like this I commented on in 2009 (which not only did they not, but if you use the jailtime to make it into an hourly wage they made a KILLING per hour):

    2. Anonymous Coward

      10 years for $8million..

      I'd do that for an $800,000 income any day.

  2. Timothy Creswick


    So 250 people didn't notice an average of $7940 in surplus phone charges every year?

    That's about £400 per month...

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    his take

    Was $8m

    Let's assume he took 1/2

    "more than 250 victims" - let's run with 1600...

    That's 1600 people "not noticing a charge of $10k ??!!

    1. Otto von Humpenstumpf

      not really.

      The article states that the scam was running from 2003-07, i.e. 4 years. Assume $8m and 250 victims over that period, that gives you $8m / (250 vic * 48mth) = $667 per victim per month over a period of 4 years.

      That's not a lot if you're a company, and might well be below the threshold of being noticed. The guys in the accounts department might even have noticed when it first spiked, but not worried about it once it flattened out over the next few months.

      Having seen phone bills for a company of about 60 people I certainly can see this happening... $700 (at the time, about the same amount in Euros, if memory serves) is simply within normal tolerances for some.

  4. JeffUK
    Dead Vulture

    1997 Called

    It wants its scam back!

    Tombstone because I thought dialup was long dead!

    1. JohnG


      I am surprised he managed to find enough people (who had any money) in Germany still on dialup.

  5. Tron Silver badge

    Waste of prison space.

    10 years for a financial crime? How many violent assaults and rapes lead to much shorter stays in prison? Take his money and give him a taste of prison. Keep the limited prison space for people you need to keep away from society because they are violent and have physically and psychologically damaged people.

    His victims didn't even notice.

    1. Ted Treen

      Not quite right

      "How many violent assaults and rapes lead to much shorter stays in prison? "

      In the US of A, many violent assaults and rapes occur in prison.

      Something to look forward to...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do the idiots

    think they'd get away with this? Surely the phone call to money trail is pretty easy to follow.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ancient tech

    Who the hell still has a POTS modem connected?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      and your point is?

    2. M7S

      POTS modems

      People who have realised that if their ISP Tech Support are all using VoIP and want to be able to connect in the event of a router failure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not me

        But I've thought of connecting one to use as a fax.

  8. JaitcH

    Good old American business enterprise.

    Just shows how gullible businesses can be when accepting telephone bills as gospel. Do they even have audits?

    One technique that blocks these scams is requiring extensions to dial a personal identifier code for all long distance. This type of software can't, usually, handle such quirks as that.

    1. Dave Murray

      Good old reading comprehension

      You don't have it.

  9. Stanislaw

    Point of order

    It is impossible to conspire on your own. Strictly speaking you therefore can't really have "co-conspirators" - just "conspirators".

    Think of it as an access of an undefined property. Or something.

    Yes, yes, yes, all right. I'll get my coat.

  10. ginger_tosser

    Inland Revenue?

    If the IRS are getting a cut of the $8M then surely they should be prosecuted for receiving stolen goods!

  11. John Savard


    It's good news he was caught and convicted. However, there is a definite problem in the way cases like this are dealt with. He should be required to finish making full restitution before he is allowed to begin paying either his fine or his taxes. After all, there's no guarantee that he has enough money, in addition to his ill-gotten gains, which all came from his victims, to pay out any more money. It will be difficult enough to deal with the fact that he likely spent some of his ill-gotten gains before he was caught.

  12. url
    Paris Hilton

    funky math

    I don't think the article stated how much of the 8million was contributed by the 250 who didn't notice.

    Paris because she has a thing about phones & porn

  13. kain preacher

    Funny thing

    In the US you have to pay Federal income tax on all income, even if it's illegal. So they can nail a drug dealer for income tax evasion if he does not pay his taxes.

    1. Tempest

      Re: In the US you have to pay Federal income tax on all income

      Not if you are very rich or have a business.

      Taxes, in the U.S., are for poor people and suckers. You can even deduct your mortgages there!

  14. Dr Patrick J R Harkin


    What's a modem?

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