A computer hacker at work. Photo from Pixabay.
A computer hacker at work. Photo from Pixabay.

The alleged mastermind behind a phishing attack that targeted Los Angeles County Superior Court email accounts is set to be arraigned next week on 18 felony counts, the District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Oriyomi Sadiq Aloba, 31, was arrested last week at his home in Houston by personnel from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the FBI’s Los Angeles office and Houston Cyber Task Force, the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Aloba is due in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Dec. 1 for arraignment on a dozen counts of false personation, five counts of altering public safety computer data, software or program and one count of multiple identifying information theft. He could face up to 14 years and four months in state prison if convicted.

More than 500 Los Angeles Superior Court employees received email messages in July that tried to trick users into revealing their account credentials by directing them to visit bogus websites that appeared to be from legitimate companies. Fewer than a dozen Superior Court employees were affected by the breach, and the court determined that no case information, court data or financial data were compromised, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The case is unrelated to a phishing attack last year in which county officials said 108 county employees were tricked into providing their user names and passwords through an email designed to look legitimate, and that some of the workers had confident client or patient information in their email accounts as a result of their county duties.

County officials learned about that breach the following day and “immediately implemented strict security measures” and implemented new controls to minimize the risk of future phishing attacks, authorities said.

“Based on intensive investigation and monitoring, there is no evidence that confidential information from any members of the public has been released because of the breach,” according to a statement released last December by the county’s Chief Executive Office.

County officials announced charges then against Austin Kelvin Onaghinor, a Nigerian national accused of waging the May 2016 phishing attack.

Onaghinor — who remains a fugitive — was charged last year with one felony count of accessing and using computer data to commit fraud or to control or obtain money, property or data, along with eight felony counts of unlawful transfer of identifying information for identity theft.

–City News Service

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