If you're like most Americans, you work hard for the money you have and would be seriously hurt by someone taking that money away from you. Unfortunately, too many people are unaware of the potential dangers that lurk around some of the most harmless-looking corners.
Earlier this month, a man pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft for crimes that violated people's privacy when most had no reason to believe they were at risk.
Mario Simbaqueba Bonilla, a 40-year-old Colombian citizen, reportedly stole personal information from more than 600 people using illegal software installed in public computers. According to the story in PC World, Simbaqueba Bonilla targeted mainly hotel business hubs and public computer lounges.
He allegedly installed "keylogging" software into the computers, which allowed him to track any information entered by those who used the computers. He evidently gained access to the passwords, account numbers, card numbers and other data of hundreds of unsuspecting users.
Using a complex series of electronic transactions and transfers, Simbaqueba Bonilla allegedly moved money from people's payrolls, bank accounts and other accounts into several accounts he'd created, also using stolen information.
Sources report that he then had credit cards, debit cards and cash mailed to himself at various addresses. Because of the intricacy of his electronic maneuverings, Simbaqueba Bonilla's online treachery was extremely difficult to trace.
Once the money was in his hands, Simbaqueba Bonilla bought expensive electronic gear and financed luxury travel for himself, sources report.
Most of the victims of Simbaqueba Bonilla's outrageous identity theft scam were hotel guests who likely had no worries about checking their personal information on the facility's machines. But this case should serve as a serious warning.
Simbaqueba Bonilla was reportedly arrested in August of last year, when he flew into the United States using an airline ticket purchased with stolen funds, and carrying a laptop also bought with the ill-gotten cash. Sources indicate that the laptop contained the personal information of more than 600 people.
This case in and of itself is troubling. Unfortunately, experts have noted that Simbaqueba Bonilla's crime is not unusual in present-day America. As a general precaution, you should always be cautious when using public computers. If possible, only enter private and sensitive information into your home computer.
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