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Lithuanian admits ID theft plot

Brian Bowling
| Tuesday, July 3, 2012, 2:54 p.m.

A Lithuanian national admitted on Tuesday in federal court in Pittsburgh to selling information to an undercover FBI agent that could have compromised the personal information of 10,000 people.

Tadas Petrauskas, 23, of Brick, N.J., pleaded guilty to selling 39 log-in names and passwords for $2,000 to the agent in 2008.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Hull said Petrauskas hacked a data-hosting center, a company that provides individuals and other companies computer space for websites, databases and other information. The company confirmed that 32 of the names and passwords would have given someone back-door access to the company's computers and its customers' data.

With that access, someone could have intercepted financial information from online transactions and installed viruses that would have infected other computers, Hull said.

Petrauskas, using the identity “Dr. Smurf,” offered the log-in credentials for sale through a site called “Dark Market,” Hull said. The FBI took over the criminal exchange in 2006 and operated it for two years to gather information on people buying and selling identity information, Hull said.

The FBI said the Dark Market investigation led to the arrest of 56 people and prevented an estimated $70 million worth of thefts.

A genial Petrauskas often answered U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer's yes or no questions with several sentences. In addition to prison, he faces possible deportation.

“I had a beer last night,” Petrauskas told Fischer. “I had a hard time sleeping.”

Petrauskas, through his attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Linda Cohn, declined to comment after his court hearing.

Fischer allowed Petrauskas to remain free on bond pending his sentencing, which she scheduled for Oct. 30.

Cohn and Hull agreed that, barring discovery of any previous crimes, Petrauskas is facing a recommended sentence of 2 to 2 12 years in prison.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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