Guilty: Darkode Member Faces 3 Years

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 @ 12:08 PM gHale

A member of the dismantled cybercrime forum Darkode is facing up to three years and a fine for one count of violating the CAN-SPAM ACT, federal officials said.

Eric L. Crocker, 39, of Binghamton, NY, also known as “Phastman,” pleaded guilty on Monday for his involvement in a scheme to infect the computers of Facebook users with the Slenfbot worm and a piece of malware dubbed “Facebook Spreader.”

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Facebook Spreader is able to access victims’ Facebook accounts and send their friends messages containing a link. The link pointed to the Slenfbot (Dolbot) worm, which in turn downloaded Facebook Spreader to the newly infected machine. The cycle would repeat to get as many computers as possible in a botnet.

The suspect rented the botnet via the Darkode forum to others who used it for sending out “massive amounts of spam.” Court documents show Crocker and his accomplices received between $200 and $300 for every 10,000 active infections. The activities took place between August 2011 and October 2012.

Crocker faces up to three years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing will be November 23.

Crocker is one of the 12 people charged in connection with Darkode, the hacking forum dismantled by international law enforcement authorities last month. The other defendants face charges of committing wire fraud, computer hacking, identity theft, money laundering, malware development, carding, extortion, and racketeering.

Europol said Darkode had between 250 and 300 members before law enforcement officials shut it down. The U.S. Department of Justice said the FBI infiltrated the forum and that led to bringing it down.

Less than two weeks after authorities made the announcement, someone claiming to be Darkode’s main administrator announced plans to relaunch the forum with new security measures designed to protect the website and its members.