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Teens Arrested in MySpace Extortion Scam 193

Posted by Zonk
from the not-the-brightest-criminals-ever dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Two New York teens have been arrested after trying to extort $150,000 from the makers of MySpace, the popular online community site." From the article: " MySpace discovered the intrusion earlier this year and blocked it. The Los Angeles-based company also reported the incident to authorities. During the course of the investigation, threats were made that unless $150,000 was paid, new exploit code would be released, according to the statement. By this time, the sting operation had been set up, so instead of meeting with MySpace late last week, the pair from New York met with undercover officers from the U.S. Secret Service and the Los Angeles District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation. "
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Teens Arrested in MySpace Extortion Scam

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  • Go to jail (Score:4, Funny)

    by linvir (970218) * on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:41PM (#15417284)
    Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $150,000.
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@noSPaM.gmail.com> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:42PM (#15417286) Journal

    So, two kids hacked MySpace, and threatened further damage unless they were given $150,000, but cry "foul" when lured into a job offer/interview for the purpose of arresting them.

    I'm not sure, but I'm willing to bet extortion dollars thay MySpace would not bother luring people into their space if no extortion were there in the first place.

    It's pretty amazing how criminals (alleged) cry about violated rights when apprehended. Yeah, there are constitutional procedures to guide law enforcement and judicial, thank goodness for that.

    I don't see, assuming these are the kids who did hack MySpace, any impropriety nor violation of their "space".

    • by Anonymous Coward
      So, two kids hacked MySpace, and threatened further damage unless they were given $150,000, but cry "foul" when lured into a job offer/interview for the purpose of arresting them.

      Nothing in the article says anything about them 'crying foul'. It mentions that they're pleading 'not guilty' to the charges but nothing else about their reaction.
      • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@noSPaM.gmail.com> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:29PM (#15417505) Journal
        Nothing in the article says anything about them 'crying foul'. It mentions that they're pleading 'not guilty' to the charges but nothing else about their reaction.

        My bad, I read a different (additional) article... From this Chicago Tribune article [chicagotribune.com] (possible registration required).

        The pertinent text from that article:

        ...,

        The popular social networking site improperly lured Saverio Mondelli, 19, and Shaun Harrison, 18, to Los Angeles with the prospect of a consulting contract, said Mondelli's lawyer, Michael Dowd of Manhattan.

        And when they arrived in California last week and sat down for a business meeting with what they thought was a contingent of MySpace employees -- who were actually Secret Service agents and local detectives -- they were arrested without warning, Dowd said.

        "The proposition to hire them as consultants was made by MySpace," Dowd said. "This was a naked attempt to lure them into the lion's den and to somehow make an allegation of impropriety against them."

        • by suffe (72090) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @05:11PM (#15417690) Homepage Journal
          Are you insane? Not only did you Read The Fucking Article, you read another fucking article on top of that. Who are you and what are you doing on Slashdot?!
        • I read this same article, and I'm trying to figure out who is the bigger idiot: these kids or their stupid ass lawyer. I sure hope he has a better argument than this for the judge.
          • Their "stupid ass lawyer" is just doing his job. Like it or not, one of the drawbacks to having a judicial system that values the rights of the accused, is that the accused will exercise those rights whether or not they are guilty. That is simply the price of justice, and, frankly, I think it's worth it. Due process is not a mere annoyance, nor is the right to confront your accusers -- these things are essential to maintaining a justice system that society can accept. So these kids are probably totally
            • I fully agree with what you're saying; everyone has a right to a vigorous defense no matter how horrible of a crime they are accused. However this lawyer first should not be making these idiotic statements to the media; most lawyers say nothing to the media beyond "we will aggressively defend this case" and advise their clients to do the same. Second, if his arguments in court are this weak, his clients will be doing some jail time for sure.
            • Due process is not a mere annoyance, nor is the right to confront your accusers [...]

              Sadly, the latter right is pretty much gone thanks to laws like RICO that encourage anonymous tips.

              Why are anonymous tips required? Because the punishment is generally far out of line with the behavior, so the punished feels the need for "revenge". Selling pot is not harming anyone (some drug dealers turn to violence because they cannot get restitution from the courts; however, it is a true statement that less tha

        • by thesandtiger (819476) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @03:03AM (#15419477)
          The attorney for one of them is attempting to make the claim that they were tricked. That's what they're supposed to do - what they're legally required to do. I think it would be rather unlikely to expect the guy's lawyer to say "Oh, yeah - they tricked my guy. He's too fucking stupid to walk and chew gum, they got him fair and square."

          One of the guys could have clubbed a baby to death on national television with a rolling-pin, and the lawyer would have to find some way to blame it on Martha Stewart because her rolling-pins are deadly weapons and magnetically attracted to babies, and plus, the baby was kind of being a dick, you know.
          • Exactly! (Score:3, Informative)

            by jZnat (793348) *
            An attorney's job (as confirmed by the American Bar Association [abanet.org]'s Attorney's Oath) is to do his or her best job possible for every client to win the case. It's their job! You need to blame the person who hires the attorney for malice or idiocy typically.
            • Re:Exactly! (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ScrewMaster (602015)
              Yes, but "doing their best job" is, ideally, not supposed to involve lying, cheating or stealing, nor are they required to perform illegal or unethical activity simply because their idiotic or malicious client requests it. If they do, it's because they want the money that client is paying them. On the other hand, when you hear a defense attorney babbling nonsense about his felonious client's sterling character it's generally an attempt to offset any potential jury/media bias, and that's a very real factor i
        • Why does the Secret Service have to get involved? The President's family pictures involved? Chelsea Clinton did a bad bad??

          I thought this was a felony offence for the FBI and the DA to sort out.. I'll never understand Law Enforcement post Department of Homeworld Lament...

    • Too bad these hackers were not more interesting. They seem to be simple data miners out for a buck. Script kiddies these day....
    • It's pretty amazing how criminals (alleged) cry about violated rights when apprehended.

      What about the guy who was held hostage [indymedia.org] in his own home by 5 Sheriff Deputies while they dunked his head in a fish tank and a toilet, connected batteries/live electrical wires to his genetals, and put a gun to his head in an attempt to force him to sign a waver to allow them to search his home without a warrent. Funny thing was his wife set a tape recorder in the kitchen before being ordered out of the house.

      Ofcouse that
    • Two fresh kids, a warm summer night, a dropped piece of soap, twenty horny harderned criminals.

      Ah, young love. Brings a tear to your eye doesn't it.

  • by autophile (640621) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:42PM (#15417291)
    I feel a disturbance in My Space... as if a million preteen girls all shouted "OMG, poniez!" at once.

    --Rob

  • by jonoid (863970) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:55PM (#15417353)
    If I were them I wouldn't be worried about the press publishing my name in connection with extortion, I'd be more embarassed about people finding out I was involved with MySpace.
  • ...Screw the arrest, the scam, the kiddies... Where's the exploit code?!
    (I'd really laugh if the exploit "leaked" now, costing MySpace much more than $150,000 in downtime, lost data and lost crediblity.)
    • I somehow doubt that myspace's "data" is worth $150,000.
      • by DaggertipX (547165) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @05:04PM (#15417662) Homepage
        Are you kidding me? There is a reason that Fox bought myspace - strictly for it's "data" as you put it. Myspace is a site where one of the most profitable(not to mention fickle) demographic in the world voluntarily offer up their likes/dislikes etc to a company in great detail that is easily searched, cross referenced, and advertised to. It is possibly the biggest advertising goldmine I've ever imagined.
        It's always baffled me how so many people could miss what is so big and profitable about Myspace. Even if the site itself never made money (which I doubt, as they advertise heavily and widely) - the data they collect is worth millions upon millions of dollars.
        • I think that there is more value in the source of the data than in the data itself. If you wiped out everything on Myspace other than the usernames and passwords, the data would be back in a day at the most. The userbase is the valuable component, just as it is on Slashdot. The data on Myspace may be worth more than that on Slashdot, but only in passing.
        • Even if the site itself never made money (which I doubt, as they advertise heavily and widely) - the data they collect is worth millions upon millions of dollars.


          Too bad the data is not verifiable. I have foster kids. They have accounts. I visited My Space and found the minimum age is 14.

          I think My Space has a lot of 14 year old accounts that won't be 14 for several more years. I know of 3 that are really 12.

          With some of the content on the site, I wish they had a way to verify the age of it's members.
    • I somehow doubt they can lose any more credibility.
  • by Foo2rama (755806) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:02PM (#15417383) Homepage Journal
    Don't mess with Tom!!!! Luckily he is my friendslist, so he is my friend right?


    Sad thing is I can think of about 3 ways right now to bring myspace down at least from a users standpoint. The openess of css usage they allow, plus there is a great little expliot making the rounds after you clicked on an outsidelink it takes some actions on your account to propagate itself. You could make a nice cascading corrupted CSS plague, forcing all user pages to crash any browser.
  • by llZENll (545605) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:06PM (#15417402)
    Come on now, a job interview? Don't they know the way a transaction like this goes down is on the docks at night (when its foggy of course). The guy drops the money off in a breifcase, then you zoom by on a motorcycle with a hot chick on the back who picks it up as you fly by at 80mph in black leather jumpsuits.... ...oh I see where the plan fell through, being old enough to reach the shifter on the motorcycle, and knowing a hot chick.
  • if they simply released the code, and brought myspace to its knees resulting in a increased need for mydeathspace.com
  • Tracker Sites (Score:5, Informative)

    by P!Alexander (448903) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:15PM (#15417444)
    I was wondering if Slashdot would ever cover this.

    These kids were associated with a site that charged for code that you can add to your MySpace profile which would allow you to see who had viewed your profile, when, and where they got to you from (another friend, search, etc). By my calculations they were making upwards of $20,000/month from their service ($5.00/mo with around 4000 users).

    They, and other tracker sites, have been constantly battling with MySpace over the use of the "hacks". Most of the stuff they've used has simply taken advantage of bad programming. The first generation of trackers used a flash file in the profile to read users cookie data. Then MySpace forced all embedded flash objects to disallow the use of actionscript. They moved on to inserting javascript in CSS commands, using image files to capture browser info, etc. MySpace responded by blocking the use of certain domains within profiles. They then bought a bunch of different domains and assigned them randomly to users.

    Then there was some random legal trouble that they never really talked about but had apparently moved past. The next planned release was supposed to be "unstoppable". They had promised the release for about a week and a half and it was eventually pushed back to May 19. Then they got arrested. The site, myspaceplus.com, switched over to a basic notice about "info coming soon" and that was it. There was a pretty active forum on there but I think people were starting to sense that there was trouble and/or the two owners (who went by Jack and Jake on the site) were skipping town.

    Anyway, it's a really interesting phenomenon, especially considering that other services have built in the ability to see who's viewing you as long as you allow others to do the same when you view their profile (Friendster). Most of the tracker sites now are on a similar model where the tracker will only work with other users ot the service.

    So, not really "hacking" per se. It seems that MySpace was most worried about people's IP addresses getting stolen. The sites started hashing them so you couldn't see the actual address. Seems like a weird thing to be worried about on the privacy front if you ask me.
    • Re:Tracker Sites (Score:2, Redundant)

      by pimpimpim (811140)
      Thank you for all the info! The way you put it, this doesn't seem to be really 'hacking', everyone is allowed to offer pictures to be included in webpages, and they could ask money for doing it as well, nothing illegal in that! Of course asking 5 dollar/month for the services they offered is a scam, but so is myspace in general, and anyone wasting time and money on all this should just in general be pitied upon :) Furthermore, this doesn't seem to be about "badly written code" in myspace that much, but more
    • by Mooga (789849) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @05:25PM (#15417739)
      It seems that MySpace was most worried about people's IP addresses getting stolen. The sites started hashing them so you couldn't see the actual address. Seems like a weird thing to be worried about on the privacy front if you ask me.

      So you can post your name, age, birthday, address, and all your other personal information for everyone to see on MySpace, but now they wont find your IP address! That's privacy for you!
      If people on MySpace wanted privacy, they wouldn't BE on MySpace.

      • Maybe because half of the people on my space don't really post _their_ personnal information. Some of them might have a reason to hide their IP on a site full of pre-teen and teen...

        My Space : The Visual IRC
  • by a_greer2005 (863926) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:15PM (#15417445)
    They had an opprotunity to take down the most annoying site in the history of the internet and the greedy bastards didnt pull the trigger? HANG 'EM!

    The abouve comment is a joke...laugh...

    • They did something with my product that I didn't intend! CRIMINALS! FRY THEM! And worse.. they MADE MONEY! Throw the book at them!

      Seriously.. the extortion thing was pretty dumb of them, but this sense of ownership of everything a company touches is insane and needs to end. People will build on top of your work. Its the way free market economies work. Get over it.
  • WTF (Score:3, Informative)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:33PM (#15417522) Journal
    Okay, first off if the ZDnet story is the true account these kids must surely get somekind of "dumbest criminals" award.

    However if you google for other news stories there seems to be more going on.

    First of they are not teens. 18 and 19 makes them adult in america doesn't it?

    Second is that they apparently ran a website http://myspaceplus.com/ [myspaceplus.com] (wich is still up but empty of content, and horribly laid out on opera/linux). Before this it apparently was a site for some software to hack myspace.

    This "first" hack was discovered and plugged. They then apparently tried to extort myspace into paying 150.000 (or get paid to be consultants) and were then trapped by law enforcement officials at a meeting.

    A lot of the explenation by the lawyer of the young idiots sound like typical lawyer crap "anything to get my clients off".

    The real question is, what was myspaceplus.com about? Is this just a story of two idiots who were to greedy and now can learn a bit about the real world. Or did myspace step over the line in trying to get rid of a couple of hackers by appealing to their greed.

    Either way the young aduls are stupid but you can wonder if they really need to spend several years in a federal jail because of it, oh who am I kidding. Fry the suckers.

    It just is fucking hilarious. If their attorny is claiming the truth (HA) then you got to admire their lack of common sense. Ooh, yeah we publish a tool to hack myspace. Oh look they are sending us a job offer to advise them for 150.000 dollars. Lets travel across the country to get rich!

    By the way doesn't the fact that they travelled across the state border (LA and New York are different parts of america right? You yanks ain't got a monopoly on bad education you know) make it a federal crime?

    Oh well, since they are geeks they will at least soon loose their virginity. Squeel piggy, squeel!

    • by jdbartlett (941012)
      "First of they are not teens. 18 and 19 makes them adult in america doesn't it?"

      Sorry, could you say that again with numbers in writing? I'll give you a hint: EighTEEN and NineTEEN.

      You are correct that they are adults (legally able to sign a contract). They are also teenagers.
      • by Osty (16825)

        You are correct that they are adults (legally able to sign a contract). They are also teenagers.

        I don't know if the OP meant it this way, but I took it as a comment on how US society (or at least the media) tries to excuse behavior. Legally, at 18 you're an adult. The term "teen", while technically referring to someone between the ages of 13 and 19, tends to imply "child". So, are you still a child at age 18? What about at age 25? As an example, the local news continually referred to both the shoot

    • Re:WTF (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)
      The police did nothing wrong here, these guys are screaming "entrapment" because any criminal that gets tricked whines about it. The only time it's entrapment and thus illegal is if the police encourage you to break a law you wouldn't have normally. Example:

      Not Entrapment: You are a drug dealer, you see an undercover officer (UC) and walk up to them and offer to sell them drugs, without them asking you anything. They then make a buy and bust you. All well and legal, since you made the offer, clearly you wer
    • teenage [tfd.com] adj. Of, relating to, or applicable to those aged 13 through 19.

      You can be tried as an adult a lot sooner then that. Nobody said they were children.

      I would ask how your comment got to a three score, but that's of no use given your ability to understand simple numbers is so lacking.

  • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:44PM (#15417576)
    And this was posted right above an article about how science learning was down in U.S. schools.

    Coincidence? ;-)

  • Welcome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lip (977477) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:52PM (#15417619)
    Welcome to MyJailSpace.com!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hmmmm Betty. The cat did a whopsee on the boys' website's google cache:

    http://66.249.93.104/search?q=cache:XrpeKGWy2egJ:s py.myspaceplus.com/+&hl=en&gl=uk&ct=clnk&cd=1 [66.249.93.104]

  • The Real Deal (Score:5, Informative)

    by rivetgeek (977479) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @05:33PM (#15417784)
    I speak from experience in that I was the one to bring this scam to the attention of myspace in the first place. And I cracked the first several codes they released. ( Having friends that work at myspace helps) They ran a site that released "trackers". These were bits of flash mostly that when loaded onto a users page cause anyone viewing that page to be victimized by a series of css or bad design exploits. These mostly took advantage of css through flash actionscript that was encrypted to obscure the actionscript (swfencrypt). As for their latest "unblockable" code: it was really lame. A flash file on the users page redirects you to a 3rd party site that looks like myspace (think pishing tactics) that then asks you to enter your email address that is associated with your myspace account to view the users page. So now they have your ip and your myspace account and how often you visted the users account. Frankly you'd have to be a moron to fall for this though. For an example check www.blendnet.com/verify.php (though I wouldnt recommend entering a valid email address since these guys still control this server. And should this give anyone an idea, don't bother, it's already been blocked) P.S. If there are any myspaceplus users reading this, you people are some of the dumbest forum posters on earth, we watched you all this entire time and you gleefully gave us everything we needed to find and crack these stupid little codes.
  • Myspace (Score:2, Insightful)

    by certel (849946)
    And so it begins. Myspace will be the next online target such as the gambling sites were a couple years ago.
  • by mattpointblank (936343) <mattpointblank@noSPam.gmail.com> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:49PM (#15418095) Homepage
    This had to fail, if everyone who found code issues in Myspace's programming wanted $150,000 they'd be bankrupt by Monday.
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:38PM (#15418245) Homepage
    What's the connection between this story and my rights online?
  • My particular configuration of browser, font, window size, etc. conspired to place this story's headline at the bottom of the window; the only text visible "above the fold" was:
    Your Rights Online: Teens Arrested in MySpace
    Finally, MySpace gets interesting!
  • Sounds at least a little unethical to me. Shouldn't they have been arrested in their own state and extradited if need be?
  • Why are so many of you surprised by this? With the recent press about all the "worlds dumbest would-be criminals" blogging about their future and past illicit exploits on MySpace, it's no wonder these two knuckleheads fell hook line and sinker.

    Glad to have them out of the genepool.


    The kid that eats the marbles, doesn't live to have kids of his own.
    George Carlin
  • 150k, WTF (Score:3, Funny)

    by Old Wolf (56093) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @02:41PM (#15421438)
    [pinkie in mouth] One hundred and fifty ... THOUSAND ... DOLLARS!!!

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