Walllingford man arrested for online phishing scheme

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WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A Wallingford man was arrested today in connection to a scheme to steal bitcoins in an online phishing scheme.

The New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced that Michael Richo was charged with access device fraud, computer fraud, wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering. A criminal complaint states that Richo engaged in an online scheme where he stole bitcoins from individuals on the dark web.

The dark web is the World Wide Web content in a privacy network, popular for black markets. Bitcoins are a form of electronic currency, and online marketplaces on the dark web typically accept them as a payment method.

The complaint alleges that Richo posted fake links to online marketplaces on dark web forums.  The links directed individuals to a fake login page that looked like the real login pages for the various online marketplaces.  When individuals attempted to log in, Richo stole his or her username and password.  Once he had an individual’s username and password, Richo monitored the individual’s bitcoin balance at the real marketplace.  If the individual later deposited bitcoins with the real marketplace, Richo withdrew the bitcoins before the individual could spend them and caused the stolen bitcoins to be deposited into his own bitcoin wallet. Richo then sold the stolen bitcoins to others in exchange for U.S. currency, which was deposited into a bank account that Richo controlled.

The complaint also alleges that Richo had over 10,000 stolen usernames and passwords saved on his computer.

Richo appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam in New Haven and was released on a $100,000 bond.