Hacker takes $50,000 a few cents at a time

A hacker has used a loophole to collect more than $50,000 from Google Checkout and online brokerage firms, a few cents at a time.

Click here to read the NEW PC Pro blogs

When opening an online brokering account it is common practice for companies such as E-trade and Schwab to send a tiny payment – ranging from only a few cents to a couple of dollars – to verify that the user has access to the bank account listed. Services such as Google Checkout and Paypal use a similar tactic to verify credit and debit cards linked to accounts.

According to court documents, Californian Michael Largent used an automated script to open 58,000 such accounts, collecting many thousands of these small payments into a few personal bank accounts.

Largent also performed the same trick with Google’s Checkout service, cashing more than $8,000 alone from the service.

He is currently free on bail pending a court judgement on charges of wire, bank and mail fraud for his antics with the online brokerage sites, although his similar approach to getting cash out of Google has not been pursued by police as of this time.

When his bank contacted him about the thousands of small payments, Largent explained that he had read the terms of service of the sites he was targeting, and believed he was doing nothing wrong, claiming that he needed the money to pay off debts.

However, Largent used false names, including cartoon characters, as well as false addresses and social security numbers, which opened him to conviction under laws on mail, bank and wire fraud.

PC Pro’s Top Five Stories

1. Asus to offer £10 battery upgrades on Eee PC

2. The ridiculous GCSE ICT exam questions that beat PC Pro

3. Ofcom’s end of digital divide “beggars belief”

4. Dell rebuked over hidden delivery charge

5. Intel delays Centrino 2 launch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.