Microsoft Praises Bulgarian Authorities on Investigation and Arrest of Alleged Phishing and Organized Crime Group

REDMOND, Wash. — Jan. 20, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today commended the Bulgarian law-enforcement National Services to Combat Organized Crime (NSCOC) agency for investigations leading to the prompt arrest of an organized ring of eight individuals who allegedly operated an international “phishing” operation. Microsoft supported the NSCOC by providing investigative and technical support in the case.

NSCOC arrested eight people in raids conducted this week in three Bulgarian cities. The group allegedly is part of an international criminal network that commits financial fraud and steals personal data through the Internet.

“We are pleased to have collaborated with the Bulgarian authorities in their swift and effective action in this case,” said Horacio Gutierrez, associate general counsel for Microsoft Europe. “This is an important step forward in the combat against those who prey on Internet users. Microsoft believes vigorous criminal enforcement against phishers is essential to show cybercriminals that there are consequences to their illegal actions, and we are pleased to collaborate with law enforcement agencies around the world in this effort.”

Known as the MBAM Gang (Microsoft® Billing Account Management) by Microsoft investigators, the group allegedly spoofed e-mails to make them appear as if they were sent by MSN® customer service representatives. The group also allegedly created dozens of fake Internet Web pages that mimicked the design, logo and trademark of official MSN pages. By launching 46 attacks on 43 compromised servers located in 11 countries around the world, the group allegedly put Internet users’ personal information at risk by inviting them to update personal financial data such as credit card, personal identification and verification numbers. The stolen financial data was allegedly used to make purchases and receive express money transfers for more than $50,000 (U.S.) on behalf of credit card owners from the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Microsoft referred the matter and evidence of the attacks for further investigation to Bulgarian authorities, who ultimately succeeded in identifying the alleged phishing operation.

To date Microsoft has supported more than 325 phishing and spam enforcement actions worldwide, including civil lawsuits by the company as well as actions taken by law enforcement or government agencies for which Microsoft provided substantial support or referrals. The company also has released a new Microsoft Phishing Filter Add-in for MSN Search Toolbar and the upcoming Windows Vista™ and Internet Explorer 7 to help protect customers from dangerous Web sites. In addition, the company blocks more than 3.4 billion spam messages per day from reaching the inboxes of MSN Hotmail® customers.

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