Former Woodmere Mayor Sentenced in Dark Web Credit Card Skimming Scheme

WOODMERE, Ohio (AP) - Former Mayor Charles Smith Jr. was sentenced Thursday in federal court to 33 months in prison for aggravated identity theft in connection with the dark web.

The 52-year-old, who served two terms as mayor and previously was an MLB pitcher for the Florida Marlins, has pleaded guilty to the charges and was ordered to pay more than $10,600 in restitution.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio, Smith "purchased more than 600 stolen debit and credit card accounts from the dark web, affecting victims in 25 states."

This occurred after Smith left the office and began driving a delivery truck for Amazon.

They say Smith used "device manufacturing equipment" and a "reader encoder/writer program" to copy credit cards from more than 100 stolen accounts.

He then used the counterfeit credit cards to purchase more than $10,600 in gasoline for his delivery truck.

Michael Benza, a senior lecturer at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, said, "There seems to be some other things that happened in the back story that were really depraved for him, but that's not surprising given how easily you can do that."

Benza said everything from drugs to gambling, prostitution and especially identity theft is thriving on the dark web.

"Some people will collect a lot of information about people and sell it," Benza said, "and once you have that information, you're good to go."

It's unclear what Smith's motive was, because cameras are not allowed in federal courtrooms and he has not spoken publicly about the allegations.

But Benza said it should serve as a warning to all.

"The most important thing is to be aware of how you are connected to the Internet. There could be someone sitting next to you, collecting information about you." He said.

He recommends always using a virtual private network or VPN for added security, and never conducting financial transactions over public WiFi.

If you can't, says Benza, "then use a cellular service, which can provide you with additional protection."

It's about protecting yourself from financial predators who are sometimes the same people you once trusted, such as Smith, who pleaded guilty to one count of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

From:On DarkNet – Dark Web News and Analysis
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