A 33-year-old man pleaded not guilty Friday to multiple federal counts alleging wire fraud and hacking into the Los Angeles County court computer system to steal the personal information of employees.
Oriyomi Sadiq Aloba of Houston, Texas faces charges of unauthorized impairment of a protected computer, unauthorized access to obtain information, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for an alleged “multi-stage phishing attack” on Superior Court computers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
At his arraignment Friday in Los Angeles federal court, Aloba demanded that he be allowed to read a prepared statement, but was persuaded during an almost 15-minute sidebar to allow his attorney to file the matter without an immediate public airing.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Walsh said from the bench that Aloba’s biggest complaint is “he thinks the case should be defended differently.”
The judge said he would discuss the matter with the judge assigned to the case and advised Aloba that “strategy decisions are usually left to the lawyers.”
Although Aloba’s trial was set to begin Tuesday, a prosecutor indicated that a continuance was possible.
According to the indictment, Aloba allegedly used the stolen username and passwords of multiple court employees to log into the system’s servers and send phishing e-mails to e-mail addresses outside the county system, as well as to send test e-mails to himself to test the security features and ensure full access to the account.
The e-mails included a message purporting to be a communication from American Express that led to a web page asking potential victims to provide their passwords, personal identifying information and credit card information, the indictment alleges.
The link for the fake American Express website allegedly used a code that led to Aloba’s account as the delivery address for the information that the victims entered into the website, federal prosecutors said.
Aloba allegedly accessed at least 18 different court employee accounts and sent out roughly 2 million phishing e-mails. If found guilty as charged, he would face more than 17 years in federal prison, prosecutors said.
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