University of Alabama student charged with unauthorized access and stealing other students loan funds

A student from the University of Alabama (U. of A.) has been charged with an unauthorized access to a protected computer with the aim of stealing the students loan funds from those studying at U. of A.

Birmingham Press Releases has recently released a report wherein U.S. Attorney’s office in Birmingham has charged a 22 year old Childersburg woman, Briana Jackson, with an unauthorized access to a University of Alabama computer with the purpose of stealing from the student loan funds from other students studying at the University of Alabama. The report has further acknowledged that this was a joint investigation by the university police and FBI.

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, said that Briana Jackson has accepted her criminal activities and had agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of unauthorized access to a University of Alabama computer and was also ready pay $9,598 that she had stolen electronically.

As per the plea agreement, since 15th April 2011, Jackson started running her phishing scam wherein she created an email address for example uaeduhousing@gmail.com which seemed to be connected to the University’s Housing Department and started sending it to some 60 other students of the U. of A. including her friends and acquaintances asking for their usernames and passwords for “MyBama” which is U. of A.’s student website. As per FBI more than 40 students thought this is an official requirement and sent her the details of their account.

As per the FBI: “Jackson used the information she collected with her phishing e-mails to access at least 25 user accounts between July 27, 2013, and Aug. 13, 2013. In doing so, Jackson obtained information from a protected computer in order to illegally obtain money from others’ federal and state student loan funds.”

Jackson tried to change the direct bank deposit information so as to redirect the loan funds to Green Dot money cards that were there in her control and she did this for at least seven student accounts. She was successful in two accounts wherein she transferred $9598 to the Green Dot card that she had registered in the name of another student whose details she had acquired earlier to create the Western Union account. Using a ATM card and the fraud Western Money Union account Jackson was able to withdraw $1001 however soon the account was freeze by the U. of A. which stopped her from using the other fraudulent money.

Vance has given the credit to an alert investigator saying :”An alert and committed investigator in the University of Alabama Police Department, working with the FBI, prevented large financial loss in this case and led to the charges and plea agreement with the defendant.” Further he also added :”Breaches in computer security are a fact of life in today’s Internet world and quick response to an intrusion is imperative to minimize the damage.”

As per the law the maximum sentence for accessing a protected computer has been levied to five years with a monetary fine of $250000.

A special FBI agent Roger C. Stanton said that cybercrime is definitely a top priority for the FBI however users who are connected to Internet should also be alert and careful of the emails and attachments they receive from their friends and acquaintances as these may contain malwares and could possibly be involved in some phishing schemes by frauds and cyber crooks as it has been seen in this case.

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