News and Press Releases

First Conviction in the Country Involving Peer to Peer File Sharing Programs

November 5, 2007

GREGORY KOPILOFF, 35, of Seattle, Washington, pleaded guilty this morning in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Mail Fraud, Accessing a Protected Computer without Authorization to Further Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft. In his plea agreement KOPILOFF admits he used file sharing programs to invade the computers of victims across the United States to get access to their personal information in tax returns, credit reports, bank statements and student financial aid applications. KOPILOFF admits in his plea agreement that he used the personal information of more than 50 people to commit his fraud. KOPILOFF used the information to fraudulently purchase and resell more than $73,000 in merchandise.

According to the plea agreement, KOPILOFF used peer to peer file sharing programs, which are most commonly known for their use in replicating copyright protected music and videos, to commit his fraud. Using peer to peer programs, including “Limewire,” KOPILOFF could “search” the computers of others who were part of the file sharing “network” for federal income tax returns, student financial aid applications, and credit reports that had been stored electronically by other real people on and in their own private computers. KOPILOFF would download those documents onto his own computer, and would then use the identity, and banking, financial, and credit information to open credit accounts over the Internet, in the names of the other real people whose identities he had stolen. KOPILOFF would make fraudulent online purchases of merchandise, have it shipped to various mailboxes in the Puget Sound area, and then would sell the merchandise for about half its retail value. KOPILOFF also used personal information he obtained by more traditional methods such as stealing mail or taking records from trash cans.

KOPILOFF will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge James L. Robart on January 28, 2008. Mail Fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine. Accessing a Protected Computer without Authorization to Further Fraud is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A conviction for Aggravated Identity Theft mandates a two year prison sentence to run consecutive to the prison time imposed on the underlying conviction.

The case was investigated by the Electronic Crimes Task Force of the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Seattle Police Department and Poulsbo Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Warma of the Computer Hacking and Internet Crimes (CHIPS) Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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