Two sentenced in Italy for massive phishing operation

One man gets five and a half years in prison, another receives six years

Two people have been sentenced for their participation in a massive phishing operation busted up by Italian authorities in July.

Sorin Pascu, 22, of Romania, was sentenced to five and a half years, and Marius Braditeanu, head of the scam, was sentenced to six years, according to Tuesday's edition of il Giornale .

Police arrested 18 Italians and eight other Eastern Europeans in July. The country's financial police, the Guardia di Finanza, said the scam involved sending fraudulent e-mails that appeared to come from Poste Italiane, the country's postal operator, which also offers bank accounts, insurance and loans.

The e-mails urged victims to hand over sensitive financial information. The scammers then withdrew money from their accounts, the finance authority said at the time.

Eventually, fraud management officials from Poste Italiane and the finance authority traced the transaction papers used to empty the accounts, which initially occurred in the Milan area and then spread throughout the country.

Pascu reportedly told authorities the gang bought €10 (US$14.70) phone cards to connect to the Internet, which allowed them a greater degree of anonymity to send the phishing e-mails.

Police said at least 200 people were victimized by the scam, although they think the number of victims is much higher, il Giornale reported.

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