Online gold diggers come up empty

Wednesday, 28 August 2002, 1:22 PM EST

In the old days, gold thieves swooped down on stagecoaches in the high desert or spent months casing fortified banks; bloody shootouts and hair-raising getaways were par for the course.

Not anymore. Modern thieves can orchestrate gold heists from home with a few computer keystrokes.

That's exactly what happened to digital gold dealer Crowne Gold earlier this month when, using a keystroke logger to steal passwords, hackers seized control of the virtual vaults.

The break-in occurred in the guise of a speciously innocent message to the gold broker's customer service department, located in St. Kitts, an island in the Eastern Caribbean, said Sean Trainor, the company's director of international affairs. The e-mail directed an employee to a Web page that Trainor believes may have surreptitiously installed the spyware on the employee's computer, allowing the bad guys to capture confidential logon data.

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