[ISN] Wi-Fi hopper guilty of cyber-extortion

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Mon Jun 28 2004 - 02:48:17 PDT

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    By Kevin Poulsen
    26th June 2004 
    A Maryland man with a grudge against a Connecticut-based patent firm
    used unsecured wireless networks at homes and businesses in the
    Washington DC area to penetrate the company's computers and deliver
    untraceable threats and extortion demands, until an FBI surveillance
    team caught him in the act.
    Myron Tereshchuk, 42, pleaded guilty this month to a single charge of
    "attempted extortion affecting commerce" for demanding a $17m ransom
    in exchange for not broadcasting proprietary information he obtained
    from MicroPatent, LLC, an intellectual property firm that packages
    patent and trademark information for law firms.
    Tereshchuk ran a small, competing patent document service that ran
    into trouble when he was allegedly caught removing files from US
    Patent and Trademark Office, and was temporarily banned from the
    facility. Tereshchuk believed he was the victim of corruption at the
    patent office, and blamed MicroPatent, according to court records. He
    began penetrating the company's computers, going through its trash,
    and pseudonymously sending harassing e-mails to its customers and
    At one point, the company president tried to use a "Web bug" to trace
    his cyber tormenter, but Tereshchuk detected the ruse. Meanwhile, FBI
    agents traced some of the emails and intrusions to two homes and a
    dentist's office in Arlington, Virginia. The residents, and the
    dentist, made poor suspects, and the agents learned that all three
    were running unsecured 802.11b networks.
    Though he went to some lengths to make himself untraceable
    technically, past altercations between Tereshchuk and the company made
    him the prime suspect from the start, according to court records. The
    clearest sign came when he issued the $17m extortion demand, and
    instructed the company to "make the check payable to Myron
    The FBI began following Tereshchuk, and in March a surveillance team
    watched as he drove to a computer lab at the University of Maryland,
    where he used a purloined student account to send more threatening
    email. "During this drive he was observed driving erratically and was
    paying a lot of attention to something in the front passenger side
    seat," an FBI affidavit notes.
    The Bureau got a search warrant for Tereshchuk's home, where they
    found evidence of his campaign against MicroPatent, as well as the
    components for hand grenades and the formula and ingredients necessary
    for making Ricin, according to prosecutors, who say the FBI is still
    investigating some aspects of the case. Tereshchuk is scheduled for
    sentencing on October 22nd.
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