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September 5th, 2008

The Analyzer Is Among The Suspects In $1.8 Million Theft From A Canadian Company

Ehud Tenenbaum, a 29-Israeli known online as “the Analyzer” and living in Montreal, was arrested after investigators spent nine months and found out that him and three other suspects allegedly stole $1.8 million from a Calgary company. The operation involved the U.S. Secret Service and municipal police in Calgary and Vancouver – as well as in Montreal, where investigators arrested four Quebec-based suspects. All four suspects were arrested in Montreal and brought to Calgary on Tuesday.

In 1998, a 19-year-old Israeli named Ehud Tenenbaum accessed computers belonging to the Pentagon. After his conviction, Tenenbaum used his expertise to help Israeli organizations protect their computer networks against cyber attacks.

Investigators are now working to verify the one-time hacker known as “the Analyzer” is one of the four Montrealers accused of stealing close to $2 million by using computers to falsely inflate the value of prepaid debit cards. Calgary police didn’t name the business that was targeted, but said it’s a national company that offers short-term credit and other financial services – such as prepaid debit cards. The U.S. Secret Service has an ongoing investigation that might find additional victims in the United States.

The fraud was committed by someone who hacked into the company’s Calgary computers from Montreal and changed the value of the debit cards to an amount higher than their face price. Cash was then withdrawn from bank machines at several locations across Canada and abroad. Most of the Canadian withdrawals occurred in Montreal.

Investigators in Calgary began their investigation after being contacted by the Vancouver Police Department. The Vancouver police, in turn, were working with the U.S. Secret Service on a separate probe that led them to Calgary.  It’s possible the investigation may widen to include more charges. Computer-based crime investigations can be difficult for law-enforcement agencies, because they often span several jurisdictions and require special expertise to track down suspects who can use the technology to cover their tracks. Investigators in Montreal searched four properties and seized computers and business records that will now be analyzed for evidence.

Tenenbaum, who has been charged with six counts of fraudulent use of credit card data and one count of fraud over $5,000, is the only one who remains in custody. Priscilla Mastrangelo, 30, of Montreal, has been charged with 23 counts of fraudulent use of credit-card data and one count of fraud over $5,000.  Jean Francois Ralph, also known as Ralph Jean-Francois, 28, of Montreal, has been charged with four counts of fraudulent use of credit-card data and two counts of fraud over $5,000. Spyros Xenoulis, 33, of Montreal, has been charged with one count of fraudulent use of credit-card data and one count of fraud under $5,000. All four are scheduled to appear in Calgary provincial court Friday.

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