Sunday, April 20, 2008

eBay Hacker 'Vladuz' Arrested in Romania

By Ina Steiner
AuctionBytes.com

A cyber-criminal who embarrassed eBay for nearly a year with claims he had hacked the site was arrested on Thursday, according to eBay. "Vladuz" had harassed eBay with his taunting from December 2006 through October 2007, when he accessed eBay servers and gained limited access to a very small number of eBay accounts on the eBay.com site. (eBay said at the time that at no point did the fraudster get any access to financial information or other sensitive information.).

eBay called him a "known Romanian fraudster going by the handle Vladuz." He first began posting on discussion boards on eBay's German site in late 2006, and in February and March of 2007, Vladuz posted on eBay boards using the pink line reserved for eBay employees.

In September, eBay closed its Trust & Safety discussion board for hours after threads began appearing listing the names and addresses of eBay members.

And in October, some members who had been publicly critical of Vladuz claimed he had locked them out of eBay briefly and sent them an email to prove it.

Vladuz was a major topic of conversation among some eBay users, particularly regular posters to the Trust & Safety discussion boards hosted by the auction site. A few sellers actually considered Vladuz a sort of folk hero who exposed eBay's security weaknesses, and they posted videos to YouTube detailing the alleged activity.

eBay issued a press release Thursday evening to report the arrest, reading in part, "Despite numerous efforts to defraud eBay users via accessing administrative accounts, Vladuz was unsuccessful in his attempts." The company publicly thanked the Romanian General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (DGCCOA), in cooperation with the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, "for successfully arresting cyber-criminal Vladuz, who had attempted to defraud eBay users."

According to some Romanian websites but as yet unconfirmed by AuctionBytes, the person eBay calls Vladuz who was arrested in Romania yesterday was a 20-year-old by the name of Vlad Duiculescu, or, Românul Vlad Constantin Duiculescu. One site, "Hotnews.ro," attributed local Romanian authorities as stating that Vladuz "is accused of illegally accessing email accounts of eBay users in 2005-2007." (http://tinyurl.com/4sx79g). The site also reported, "eBay representatives managed to contact Duiculescu undercover, pretending to be interested to purchase his application. eBay representatives agreed to purchase the kit and gave his real address which lead to his arrest." Other reports estimate the alleged perpetrator scammed victims out of 2 million euro using phishing techniques.

eBay spokesperson Nichola Sharpe said local Romanian law enforcement officials would have to confirm details, as they considered the case confidential until a conviction was made. Asked why eBay had issued a press release, Sharpe said eBay wanted to thank all of the law enforcement agencies involved who collaborated in the case. She also said that the community was aware of Vladuz, and said, "This is obviously great news."

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