A 20-year-old British man will spend the next 18 months behind bars for stealing "Call of Duty" gamers' credit card numbers and other confidential data and selling it to other cybercriminals.
Lewys Martin created a Trojan to remotely monitor gamers' keystrokes, giving him access to their bank and credit card numbers, passwords and PayPal accounts, Kent Online reported. Martin, from the seaside resort town of Deal in Kent, southeastern England, disguised the Trojan as a software patch for the popular computer game, and when people downloaded what they thought was a fix, Martin was able to harvest their sensitive financial details. He sold the data for between $1 and $5 each and kept the illicit profits, believed to be thousands of pounds, in an account in Costa Rica.
Martin might have gotten away with his elaborate Call of Duty con had he stuck to online crimes and not tried his hand at real world theft.
Martin's rap sheet dates back to last May, when he was caught breaking into South Kent College in Dover and attempting to steal computer equipment. He was thwarted before he could get his hands on anything, and at a court appearance in November his sentence was deferred to allow him to attend an IT computer course at a university in Canterbury.
Four months later, a drunken Martin and an accomplice were caught breaking into Walmer Science College in Kent and attempting to steal a projector, a computer, a hard drive, walkie-talkies and other equipment.
When police officers raided Martin's home following his burglaries, they found more than 300 credit card details and passwords as well as details of a fraudulent £3,000 (about $4,700) bank loan in the name of Lewys Manser. Martin was charged with three counts of burglary and fraud charges.
"It is clear that he is too clever for his own good and, being that clever, found it too easy to use that knowledge for nefarious purposes," said defense lawyer Thomas Restell while asking the judge to allow Martin to return to his computer course. Restell said the IT course would allow Martin "to harness his abilities for good and not evil." The judge disagreed, and told Martin he was given a chance, "but you never kept your promises."
The security firm Sophos advised online gamers to learn from Martin's crime: "It's not uncommon for malware to be distributed in the form of cracks and hacks from popular computer games — if you run unknown code on your computer to meddle with a video game, you might well be allowing malware to insidiously install itself too."