Feds nab teen who scammed AOL

Tuesday, 22 July 2003, 2:52 AM EST

U.S. regulators said on Monday they had charged a 17-year-old boy with using "spam" e-mails and a fake AOL Web page to trick people out of their credit-card information and steal thousands of dollars.

Officials at the Federal Trade Commission said they had agreed to settle their case against the teenager, who was not identified because of his age, after he agreed to pay back $3,500 he had stolen, and to submit to a lifetime ban on sending spam.

It's the first enforcement action the FTC has taken against an Internet "phishing" scam -- the use of spam, or unwanted junk e-mail, to lure computer users to look-alike websites, where they are deceived into forking over personal financial data.

"We're only beginning to discover the extent of these e-mails. They're only beginning to proliferate right now," FTC commissioner Mozelle Thompson told a news conference.

In the case cited on Monday, the teenager's e-mails told recipients they needed to update their AOL billing information and instructed them to click on a hyperlink connected to the "AOL Billing Center."

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