t was nearly 70 degrees below zero outside, but the e-mail on a computer at the South Pole Research Center sent a different kind of chill through the scientists inside. "I've hacked into the server. Pay me off or I'll sell the station's data to another country and tell the world how vulnerable you are," the message warned. Proving it was no hoax, the message included scientific data showing the extortionist had roamed freely around the server, which controlled the 50 researchers' life-support systems. The FBI traced the e-mail to an Internet cafe in Bucharest and helped Romanian police arrest two locals -- the latest evidence that computer-savvy Romanians are fast emerging as a bold menace in the shadowy world of cybercrime. "It's one of the leading places for this kind of activity," said Gabrielle Burger, who runs the FBI's office in Bucharest and is working with Romanian authorities to arrest suspects "and avoid the Sept. 11 of cybercrime."

Law enforcement documents obtained by The Associated Press portray a loosely organized but increasingly aggressive network of young Romanians conspiring with accomplices in Europe and the United States to steal millions of dollars each year from consumers and companies. Their specialties: defrauding consumers through bogus Internet purchases, extorting cash from companies after hacking into their systems, and designing and releasing computer-crippling worms and viruses. Alarmed authorities say the South Pole case underscores the global impact of this new breed of cyber-outlaw.

"Frustrated with the employment possibilities offered in Romania, some of the world's most talented computer students are exploiting their talents online," the U.S.-based Internet Fraud Complaint Center, run by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, says in a new report. Computer crime flourished in Romania because the country lacked a cybercrime law until earlier this year, when it enacted what may be the world's harshest. The new law punishes convicts with up to 15 years in prison -- more than twice the maximum for rape. Varujan Pambuccian, a lawmaker and former programmer, helped draft the new law after Romania's government realized the nation, which is racing to join the European Union by 2007, was getting a bad online reputation. "We want a good name for our country," he said. "I'm very angry that Romania is so well-known for ugly things -- for street dogs, street children and hackers." Pambuccian said there was a noticeable decline in criminal activity in the first three months since the law took effect. More than 60 Romanians have been arrested in recent joint operations involving the FBI, Secret Service, Scotland Yard, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and numerous European police agencies....continued....

Click here to read the full story from the Associated Press

It probably comes as quite a surprise when the young Romanians are busted and later find out that the FBI has been operating in their country and assisting the Romanian police. Other then the blood sucking cybercriminals that originate from within its borders, Romania is also famous for Transylvania, home of another world famous bloodsucker, Dracula. The extent of Romanias cybercrime problems is all quite amazing, especially when you consider their population is smaller than Canada and about the same size as Malaysia and Venezuela...

source: securitynews

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