Police nab Net-swindling suspect

A New York man allegedly stole millions from some of the wealthiest people in America using library computers and the Internet, a report says.

2 min read
A New York man allegedly stole the personal financial information of some of the wealthiest people in America using library computers, cell phones and the Internet, according to a press report.

Abraham Abdallah, 32, is suspected of using the Internet to steal millions of dollars from 200 people listed by Forbes magazine as some of the richest people in America, according to a story in Tuesday's New York Post that cited law enforcement officials.

The Post reported in February that Abdallah and Michael Puglisi, 47, both from Brooklyn, N.Y., allegedly stole at least $100,000 and as much as $1 million by obtaining data about a dozen wealthy people--including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Metromedia International Group Chairman John Kluge--through the Internet and transferring money from their bank accounts.

Abdallah, whom the newspaper identified as a "Brooklyn busboy," allegedly cracked bank, brokerage and credit card accounts belonging to finance and entertainment celebrities.

The plot also extended to celebrities including Steven Spielberg, Martha Stewart, George Lucas, Sumner Redstone, Oprah Winfrey, Ross Perot, George Soros, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, Ronald Perelman, Carl Icahn, Michael Bloomberg, David Geffen, Barry Diller and Michael Eisner, the Post reported Tuesday.

The high-tech industry's Larry Ellison was among the victims, but No. 1 on the Forbes list, Bill Gates, was not, the newspaper said.

Abdallah's alleged crimes involved tricking credit watchers--including Equifax, TRW and Experian--into providing credit reports on his victims and using the confidential information to gain access to their credit cards and accounts at brokerage houses and investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and Fidelity Investments, officials told the Post.

Using Web-enabled cell phones and voice mail, Abdallah allegedly stayed hidden for nearly six months until his arrest in late February, the newspaper said.

New York authorities said the amount stolen could be in the millions of dollars, but they are still working though the electronic money trail, according to the newspaper.

Abdallah has been charged with criminal possession of forged devices, stolen property and criminal impersonation, and the case has been taken over by the federal government, the newspaper reported.

Phone calls by CNET News.com to the New York Police Department were not returned.