Federal agents have accused Gregory Kopiloff of Seattle of using the peer-to-peer networks LimeWire and Soulseek to access users' hard drives and grab personal information and credit card numbers from tax returns, student aid applications and other financial forms, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.
The message the feds have for college kids and other P2P users: "You are handing criminals the keys to your computer."
Kopiloff bought tens of thousands of dollars of electronics with the plundered info and then resold them for "50 cents on the dollars." Unfortunately, the former Dumpter-diver gambled all his gains away -- to the point that the judge appointed a public defender to represent the now-indigent Kopiloff.
It appears he may plead guilty. He told investigators he was "relieved," as he knew this day was coming. His MO was simple: instead of searching for "Rolling Stones" in the networks' search engine, he would type in "tax return" and the like, and then walk right in to unsuspecting users' hard drives.
Robert Boback, an industry expert on peer-to-peer risk management who participated in a news conference at the U.S. Attorney's Office on Thursday, characterized what Kopiloff is accused of doing as a harbinger, calling it a "new age of crime." People engaged in peer-to-peer file sharing "don't realize what they are sharing is their entire hard drive."
"This is the new world of identity theft," he said. "There are tens of thousands of individuals making a living doing this kind of work." He likened peer-to-peer file sharing with a computer containing sensitive financial data to "putting meat into a school of piranha."