LOS ANGELES (AP) - A hacker suspected of infecting thousands of
personal computers with malicious software to obtain private financial information will plead guilty to fraud under a plea agreement, the U.S. attorney's office said.
Under the deal filed Thursday, Jason Michael Milmont, 19, agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge of unauthorized access to a computer to further a fraud, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office.
Prosecutors said the case was the first in the U.S. in which a person was prosecuted for using peer-to-peer software to deliver so-called "malware."
Milmont, of Cheyenne, Wyo., agreed to pay $73,866 in restitution and could face up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
However, under the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend he
receive a lesser sentence after he enters the plea in federal court
in his hometown in the coming weeks.
A call to Robert Rose, Milmont's attorney, was not immediately returned Friday.
Prosecutors contend that Milmont remotely controlled a "botnet" of as many as 15,000 computers around the country.
"Because the users of those compromised computers were unaware
that their computers had been turned into 'zombies,' they continued
to use their computers to engage in online banking and purchases,"
the U.S. attorney's office said in a statement.
Prosecutors said Milmont embedded his software, dubbed the "Nugache Worm," in peer-to-peer software that he made available
on the Internet.
Milmont gained remote control of computers that downloaded the
software then obtained credit card and other information, court
Milmont also infected computers through instant messaging spam,
according to the plea agreement.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)