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Hacker Group Demands "Idiot Tax" From Payday Lender 263

Posted by samzenpus
from the cost-of-business dept.
snydeq writes "Hacker group Rex Mundi has made good on its promise to publish thousands of loan-applicant records it swiped from AmeriCash Advance after the payday lender refused to fork over between $15,000 and $20,000 as an extortion fee — or, in Rex Mundi's terms, an 'idiot tax.' The group announced on June 15 that it was able to steal AmeriCash's customer data because the company had left a confidential page unsecured on one of its servers. 'This page allows its affiliates to see how many loan applicants they recruited and how much money they made,' according to the group's post on dpaste.com. 'Not only was this page unsecured, it was actually referenced in their robots.txt file.'"
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Hacker Group Demands "Idiot Tax" From Payday Lender

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  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:06AM (#40395235) Homepage

    Just because I left my door open, doesn't mean it's okay to steal.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mirix (1649853)

      'Not only was this page unsecured, it was actually referenced in their robots.txt file.'

      Sounds more like they took the door off the hinges, and put up a big sign saying "NO DOOR! COME ON IN!".

      • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:21AM (#40395349) Homepage

        If it was explicitely mentions in their robots.txt file, I assume it was done so to be excluded from robots.

        More like having an unlocked door with a sign saying "Do not enter".

        Yes, it was pretty damn stupid and very easy to avoid. That still doesn't make it okay for anybody to copy the data. If you see such security failures on a website, the right response is to inform the website owners. As I said; it's a strange sense of morals.

        If those hackers get caught and fined, I assume the hackers will consider that an "idiot tax" as well. Afterall, they were idiotic enough to get caught.

        • by tehcyder (746570) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:19AM (#40395637) Journal

          If those hackers get caught and fined

          These geniuses will get more than a fucking fine if they're caught. Blackmail and extortionare serious criminal offences, so fthey'll be spending some quality time in prison.

        • by Robert Zenz (1680268) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @04:42AM (#40395985) Homepage

          ...the right response is to inform the website owners.

          Well, they did.

        • If it was explicitely mentions in their robots.txt file, I assume it was done so to be excluded from robots.

          More like having an unlocked door with a sign saying "Do not enter".

          Yes, it was pretty damn stupid and very easy to avoid. That still doesn't make it okay for anybody to copy the data. If you see such security failures on a website, the right response is to inform the website owners. As I said; it's a strange sense of morals.

          If those hackers get caught and fined, I assume the hackers will consider that an "idiot tax" as well. Afterall, they were idiotic enough to get caught.

          After reading about the people behind anonymous getting sent to federal "pound me in the ass" prisons, I'm sure these guys will as well. They'll probably be in even more trouble since it was an extortion scam. The only thing I wonder is how long until that happens.

      • by stephanruby (542433) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:13AM (#40395605)

        Sounds more like they took the door off the hinges, and put up a big sign saying "NO DOOR! COME ON IN!".

        Since the robots.txt was actually asking search engines not to index that page.

        The sign was more like "You see that door there. Yes, that one. Do not go there. Do not open it. There is nothing to see there. "

        Hopefully, that was just a robot's trap with dummy data in it.

      • 'Not only was this page unsecured, it was actually referenced in their robots.txt file.'

        Sounds more like they took the door off the hinges, and put up a big sign saying "NO DOOR! COME ON IN!".

        Yes, but only for 0.01% of the population, everybody else saw a stone wall.

        Seriously, if a bank left the vault door open (which they do), would you feel comfortable walking in with a camera and taking pictures of account numbers?

    • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@s[ ]hdot.fi ... m ['las' in gap]> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:14AM (#40395299) Homepage

      It's not stealing, since they didn't delete the original file...

      By putting a file on a public webserver, they were PUBLISHING that data. Wether they did so intentionally or not is irrelevant, they did publish it.

      Anyone who accessed it did nothing wrong, they were simply using the website for the function it was intended, to access data made available to the public on it. They did not have to exploit any vulnerable services, nor did they bypass any form of access control.

      The fault lies purely with the company for publishing such information.

      The only thing the "hacking" group have done wrong is the attempted blackmail, they got the actual information fair and square.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not stealing, no. Extortion, blackmail, whatever you want to call it, yes, and still very illegal and rightfully so.

      • by EdIII (1114411) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:45AM (#40395485)

        Even if they did delete the original file it would not be stealing, but destruction of property.

        Thank you for pointing out the flaw in the open door analogy that always gets trotted out. Although intent does play a factor, the important word in the law is "unauthorized" or whether or not actions "exceeded authorization".

        Web servers are not open doors, and they are not like TRON.

        They simply serve documents. Sometimes they will ask for security credentials before serving the document, or check internal policies (htaccess/session based authorization and ACL), but always end up serving a document even if it is a simple response in a header like a 404.

        The only thing these hackers did was ask for a file (robots.txt) and notice that it mentioned another file and then asked for it directly.

        "Exceeded authorization" would be an interesting argument because computers always do what you tell them to do, not what you meant for them to do. So while this company may not have intended to give authorization, they did in fact, give authorization to download the file. At the very least, they did not deny the hackers the ability to download the file, and were at no time confused about the identity of the hackers (representing public users).

        If there is any appropriate analogy here it is that the company had a moron executive walking around with a briefcase full of business data, some random person asked if it was the business data and if they could have it, and the moron executive said why not, here it is. After the fact, random person contact company, informs them of said stupidity, and attempts to assess "idiot tax".

        Idiot tax is highly appropriate here.

        I would not prosecute these so-called hackers for computer crimes, but simple extortion.

        • The only thing these hackers did was ask for a file (robots.txt) and notice that it mentioned another file and then asked for it directly.

          Plus the whole "give me money or I will make your customers pay" thing.

          It boggles my mind that people will avoid morality issues like this by hiding behind semantic considerations.

        • by sycodon (149926)

          Irrelevant.

          Federal Law says that if you access their servers and you were not authorized to do so, then you have committed a computer crime, no matter what analogy you come up with.

          • by mjr167 (2477430) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @08:16AM (#40397207)

            So if I set up a public webserver and send out an internal memo saying only certain people can access my web page and then google finds my webpage and you click on the link, I can have you charged with a computer crime?

            robots.txt doesn't say "do not go here," instead it says "do not index this page." You can put a page in robots.txt that is meant to be accessed.

          • Authorized (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:08AM (#40399277) Homepage Journal

            Federal Law says that if you access their servers and you were not authorized to do so, then you have committed a computer crime, no matter what analogy you come up with.

            Right, but I think the point is that it's a stupid law. (And therefore nobody respects it or obeys it, and therefore nobody expects anyone else to obey it, and therefore that law is useless to (and probably even contrary to) the cause of justice.) In a thread titled "strange sense of morals" that's not irrelevant.

            Are you authorized to read the data at http://amazon.com/ [amazon.com]? How do you know? Who authorized you? When? What evidence do you have that you were authorized to request that page? What evidence do you have that you were authorized to receive the reply after you request that page?

            I know those are all stupid questions, but only because you have not been authorized to read Amazon's page, or if you have, it was done secretly inside Amazon and was never communicated to you. That is why it is a stupid law.

            It reminds me of how nobody has ever actually been prosecuted for playing a CSS-protected DVD on a DVDCCA-approved DVD player. Every time you descramble the CSS on a DVD, that's "circumvention" and illegal per DMCA, unless you have authorization by the movie's copyright holder, to do that. But of course, nobody has ever gotten authorization to do that. (Disagree? Prove it, or at least show some modest indirect evidence. This is harder than you think. Hint: purchasing the DVD does not imply permission to descramble the CSS, or else 2600 would have won their DeCSS case.) Every time anyone played a commercial DVD or BluRay, they were breaking the law, and the player manufacturer and the retail store who sold the player, broke the law too. That is, unless there's some sort of secret and uncommunicated authorization.

            So how do you know if you're authorized? You don't. You never know, until you moment you die without ever having been called to court.

            Same for public web servers. Everyone just assumes that information left in public, and without any notices it shouldnt' be accessed, nor with any even half-hearted ineffective attempts to limit access, is .. well .. publically accessible. But then fuckwits come along with a law saying you need authorization -- something that no one ever has, or at least can never show or demonstrate they have. The only authorization is hidden within the mind of whoever owns the server. It is never revealed, and it's lack is also never revealed, until the moment you get a letter from a lawyer or are confronted by a cop.

            They can retroactively say you didn't have authorization, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Any arguments they make which happen to get applied to clearly valuable or sensitive information (situations where common sense tells you the owner wouldn't want the information to be public -- situations the law was ostensibly intended to cover) apply just as logically to Amazon's home page. It's just that if Amazon prosecuted you for shopping at their store, the judge wouth laugh them out of court despite the technical wording of the law, simply because it's so absurd. Common sense would prevail if Amazon sued you for being a customer -- in defiance of what Congress wrote.

            But in between these two extreme examples, is a shitload of gray area. (Nearly everything you did on the web today was technically illegal.) The written law doesn't distinguish between any two points along this spectrum, just as DMCA doesn't distinguish between pirates and people merely playing their DRMed movies on Sony players. It must necessarily comes down to a judge needing to pull an arbitrary decision out of their ass, every single time.

            Not that I have any sympathy for the bad guys in this case. The extortion is illegal in itself, and shows some clearly malicious intent. If

        • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @08:09AM (#40397113) Homepage

          "Exceeded authorization" would be an interesting argument because computers always do what you tell them to do, not what you meant for them to do. So while this company may not have intended to give authorization, they did in fact, give authorization to download the file.

          One of the core principles of American law is that the intent matters. You can kill someone in a horrifically gruesome manner, but if it was purely accidental, you'll get a much smaller punishment, if any. Here, if the system administrators made any effort to restrict access to the data (such as explicitly blocking it from search engines, for example) they can make the case that it was their intent to keep the information hidden, so any attempt to access it is unauthorized.

          Authorization does not stem from what you can do, but what you have been explicitly given the authority to do. Putting a thin veneer of technology over "might makes right" doesn't change the underlying principle.

          Here's another appropriate analogy. A moron executive is walking around with a briefcase full of business data, and some random person comes up, grabs the briefcase, and runs off. The thief wasn't given permission to take it, so it's theft, regardless of the executive's inability to stop it, and regardless of the fact that the briefcase was visible to the world.

          • by EdIII (1114411) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @10:56AM (#40399097)

            Intent is rather difficult here.

            You got the briefcase analogy wrong. You're forgetting that the executive was asked what the briefcase contained and handed it over without duress . There was no theft, and all times, all actions were authorized by the executive.

            The webserver can only do what a company representative told it to do. So the intended level of authorizations needs to match the programmed level of authorizations. The responsibility for that lies entirely with the company.

            Pedantic? Not hardly.

            Consider this analogy:

            You have a food cart. It is staffed by an incompetent employee. Customer walks up and asks if there are hamburgers available. Employee responds yes. Customer asks if just anyone can have it (more accurately the employee never asks who the customer is). Employee responds that it is for everyone. Customer asks for 10 hamburgers. Employee hands over 10 hamburgers.

            Now 4 hours later when the police arrive at the customer's home and charge him with theft, is it correct?

            I would argue that it is not. The owners of the food cart may not have intended for the hamburgers to be free, or even advertised as available yet, but that is not what their employee said is it? It could even be highly unusual that hamburgers are free, and that a normal person would find it unusual, but once again, the employee handed them over.

            It's an important distinction for me because I don't like legislating the protection of the stupid, and don't want corporations to get off lightly. It's a really bad precedent in which logic and reason get thrown out the window to protect the rich and powerful. Standards need to be maintained.

            Put the hackers in jail for extortion and fine the crap out of the company for not properly configuring their webserver.

      • by Improv (2467)

        It was obviously not intended to be published to the world. Once you're doing hostile penetration analysis, you've well beyond "fair and square".

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:55AM (#40395537)

          Accessing a page referenced in robots.txt is not "hostile penetration analysis." It's basically just picking up a dollar bill left on the ground. Just because half the population doesn't know how to look at the ground (metaphorically) doesn't mean that it's stealing.

          • by tgd (2822)

            Accessing a page referenced in robots.txt is not "hostile penetration analysis." It's basically just picking up a dollar bill left on the ground. Just because half the population doesn't know how to look at the ground (metaphorically) doesn't mean that it's stealing.

            If I put a dollar on the ground on my driveway, its stealing for you to pick it up.

          • by malakai (136531)

            The assumption here is the page referenced by robots.txt simply dumps *all* this information. I'm not sure that's the case.

            This page allows its affiliates to see how many loan
            applicants they recruited and how much money they made. Not only was this page unsecured, it was actually referenced in
            their robots.txt file (Bad, bad move, guys).

            While it's possible this page just dumps everyone's info, it's more likely that it dumps for a specific affiliate account. I feel like there had to be some SQL injection or s

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tehcyder (746570)
        That is like saying that if I drop my credit card in the street I have "published" its details for everyone to see due to my own carelessness.

        I really hope people like you get their bank accounts cleared out by criminal twats like these idiots, then you'll see whether "just copying" information is so fucking harmless. Want to share your bank login and password information with me?
        • by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @04:44AM (#40395989) Journal

          That is like saying that if I drop my credit card in the street I have "published" its details for everyone to see due to my own carelessness.

          More accurately, it's like accidentally posting a photocopy of your credit card on a bulletin board, presumably with a variety of other documents.

          I really hope people like you get their bank accounts cleared out by criminal twats like these idiots, then you'll see whether "just copying" information is so fucking harmless.

          Interestingly enough, if you were to do the above and be so careless, I'm not entirely sure if the bank would be obligated to refund your money. Certainly, most banks/credit card companies have policies speak about only 24 hours to report "stolen" credit card information to maintain minimal liability on the card holder's part. Having said that, the criminal is still, well, criminal.

          Want to share your bank login and password information with me?

          Considering the GP didn't speak about "just copying" information being harmless, I'd gather the answer is no. After all, the point isn't that blackmail or clearing out someone else's bank account isn't illegal and unethical/immoral. It's that one can't charge the person with "hacking" just because you're careless anymore than you could charge people with theft because they took a photo of your photocopied credit card. I mean, a lot of people may have accessed the information and done little or nothing with it; but certainly, there's a lot of legal things you could do, like mock the person who was so careless with their personal/company details.

        • by Ginger Unicorn (952287) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @05:12AM (#40396109)

          That is like saying that if I drop my credit card in the street I have "published" its details for everyone to see due to my own carelessness.

          Yes, that's precisely what you've done.

          "just copying" information is so fucking harmless

          Correct. It's what's done with the information afterwards that inflicts the harm.

        • by mjr167 (2477430)
          It is not illegal for me to pick up your credit card. It's illegal for me to use it. Same thing with my bank info. I could give you my bank info and you could publish it legally. However, using it to access my accounts would be illegal since you are not authorized to do that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by argStyopa (232550)

        OK, pedantry +1.

        I know people on slashdot LOVE to 'game' legalities in this sort of situation (let's do one about copying music without paying for it next!), but to suggest that people who accessed it did 'nothing wrong' you have a pretty fucked-up moral code.

        I'll absolutely agree that the company putting it up unsecured was at fault for doing something staggeringly dumb.

        But having to 'exploit' something, or 'bypass' things isn't the line by which I measure whether something is 'wrong' or not. Ethically, p

        • It's unfortunate that today's society seems more concerned with what they can 'get away with' or how closely they can skate to the rules, than simply recognizing the difference between right and wrong.

          Meanwhile, the 29.97% interest rate that the payday loans people charge (and that only because 30% is considered usury and is illegal) is in no way wrong? Even when you consider that the people who take payday loans are generally the poorest part of the population?

          I'm not arguing that trying to extort money from the payday loans people isn't wrong... it is. Very much so. But simply obtaining the information from the website is not wrong... people are using the open door analogy which is fundamentally flawed

          • by sycodon (149926)

            The only analogy that applies is the one the Federal one. You know, the one that says if you access unauthorized information, you have committed a computer crime.

          • by cjb-nc (887319)

            Meanwhile, the 29.97% interest rate that the payday loans people charge (and that only because 30% is considered usury and is illegal) is in no way wrong?

            Don't forget the mystery math that lets them charge that percentage against your payment, not your principal.

            $100 principal loan at 29.97% of the principal owes the obvious amount of $129.97 in payment.
            $100 principal loan at 29.97% of the payment costs the more common amount of $142.80 in payment, an effective (and legal) 42.8% interest rate.

        • by mjr167 (2477430) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @08:27AM (#40397317)

          There is, however, a distinction between morality and legality. Just because something is immoral doesn't make it illegal. Extortion is illegal. I don't think anyone is arguing that it isn't. The argument is if accessing a public webpage is a criminal act under the computer fraud and abuse act.

          Being an ass, like stupidity, is not necessarily a criminal offense.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        So it's copyright infringement, They can be fined $29,000,000,000,000,000,000 for lost revenue. That's what the RIAA claims for a Justin Beeber song.

    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:43AM (#40395469) Homepage Journal
      Not the same, its more like a beautiful woman getting naked in front of a big open window in broad daylight then getting mad at people for looking because she forgot to pull down the blinds. To steal something as in your door analogy you actually have to enter the premise, itself a crime. Looking out your window into a window thats wide open, not a crime.(of course threatening to sell the vide on the internet unless the woman pays up IS a crime, and thats what these people are guilty of)
      • Not quite the same as you've got an expectation of privacy if you're in your house. This situation is more like a beautiful woman undressing on a theatre stage and not realising that people were watching.
        • Your expectation of privacy in your own house basically means that its illegal for someone to go out of their way(zoom lenses, hidden cameras etc.). If you have a giant window thats visible from the street, you cannot expect that nobody will look into it on occasion, its your job to at least take rudimentary steps to prevent people from seeing something than any peeping they do is a crime, but if you are just showing it off then its fair game.
          • Yes, but putting information on a public website is actively publishing that information, not just failing to hide it.
        • by tehcyder (746570) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:37AM (#40395727) Journal

          Not quite the same as you've got an expectation of privacy if you're in your house. This situation is more like a beautiful woman undressing on a theatre stage and not realising that people were watching.

          This situation is most like someone accidentally leaving their Ferrari unlocked with the keys in, and some fourteen year old joyrider borrowing it for a few hours, then attempting to blackmail the owner because he found some pictures of his mistress in the glovebox.

          If you're going to do a stupid analogy, at least make it a car one.

        • by LizardKing (5245)

          Not quite the same as you've got an expectation of privacy if you're in your house.

          Yes, but the post you replied too stated that the hypothetical woman had stripped in front of an open window. That's carelessness, and in the UK at least you can't complain if you feel your privacy was violated by someone observing you from beyond the boundaries of your own property. In a recent court case mentioned by Private Eye magazine, a man was even found guilty of indecency for cracking one off in his own bathroom, s

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        I think how well you analogy fits might get to intent.

        You could also look at it like. These guys showed up at their house, with burglars tools planing to beak in. They try the door first and discover its been left unlocked. Okay its not longer breaking an entering but its still trespassing. What they did with the data afterward is still extortion.

        Most crimes have intent as part of their definition. That is how we have to separate innocently running across confidential data mistakenly published and acti

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:53AM (#40395527)

      Fucking door analogies, how do they work?

      It's not okay to steal? No shit, Sherlock.

    • by Tom (822)

      No, but if you left the curtains open, it is not illegal to stand on public property and look into your living room - or bedroom, for that matter. It might not be morally okay, but it is not illegal.

      • by PhilHibbs (4537)

        Actually that probably is illegal. Public property is not freely available for any use whatsoever. Pavements are for getting from one place to another. Any other use, such as setting up a tent to sleep in, selling things, busking, and (quite possibly) standing and staring into someone's bedroom are not legitimate, legal uses of common property.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      I'd prefer to say that stealing is wrong on principle, but the precautions or invitations one emits may change whether or not it's really stealing.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      If you are already stealing from others? yeah it's ok.

    • by asdf7890 (1518587)
      They didn't just leave their door open. The opened the doors of many of their clients without their knowledge.

      That doesn't make extortion right at all, of course, but looking at it the other way around: don't let the extortion attempt distract you from expecting the company in question to take more than a little flack for not being able to do their job (that part of the job which involves keeping their client's information secure) properly.
    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      Just because I left my door open, doesn't mean it's okay to steal.

      Yes, but it was still a crazy stupid move of Americash not to pay. It would have been worth way more than $15,000 just to find out details on how they had done it (and close a major vulnerability in the system).

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      What kind of morals did you expect from a group calling itself "king of the world?"

  • One would suspect the FBI might soon be levying it own 'idiot tax' on Rex Mundi ...

    unless of course said hacker is not US-based but that would raise EVEN MORE questions about the ethics if hackers are getting involved in commercial arrangements in FOREIGN countries

    • by Teun (17872)
      Once on the internet, what is foreign?

      The article also mentions some Belgian institutions like Dexia Bank and a temping agency.

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      Once people resort to extortion the concept of ethics becomes entirely irrelevant. They're criminal scum, pure and simple, the electronic equivalent of people pretending to be meter readers and robbing vulnerable old ladies, and raping them if they feel like it.

      My only worry is that "Rex Mundi" is probably an autistic thirteen year old and therefore can't be prosecuted as a mentally competent adult.
    • by Frankie70 (803801)

      unless of course said hacker is not US-based but that would raise EVEN MORE questions about the ethics if hackers are getting involved in commercial arrangements in FOREIGN countries

      I don't understand. Is it more ethical to do extortion in your own country than in a foreign country?

  • by mpoulton (689851) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:08AM (#40395247)
    So they published the database on the Internet for anyone to access. I would be hard pressed to find a legal cause of action against the "hackers" (web surfers?) who browsed and saved the file. Additionally, because the database contains only a tabulation of factual information, it cannot be copyrighted. Thus, Rex Mundi may be legally allowed to publish it at will. Most of the civil causes of action that could be brought in a case of blackmail or extortion may be unsuccessful here since the "victim" PUBLICLY PUBLISHED the data themselves. Interesting case.
    • Re:No laws borken? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:17AM (#40395315)

      Even if the publishing of the data itself has no legal implications, I suspect the extortion would be enough to get these guys into a sh*tload of trouble,.

    • Seems computers is the only area where the "I didn't mean to, and it's so complicated to secure things with this newfangled technology that I shouldn't have to" defense works though.
    • Re:No laws borken? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by goodmanj (234846) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:29AM (#40395387)

      You're kidding, right? This is clear-cut extortion. You don't have to threaten to commit a criminal act to be guilty of extortion: all you need to do is threaten to do something unpleasant and demand something in exchange for not doing it. "Give me $5 or I'll punch you" is extortion, but so is "Give me $5 or I'll tell everyone you have a crush on Suzie", even though saying so is not a crime, and even though Suzie may already know.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extortion [wikipedia.org]

      • by mpoulton (689851)
        Among other elements, extortion requires a threat to the person or property of the victim, or someone associated with the victim. There is none here. The information at issue was publicly released by the "victim" on their website, and later withdrawn. This is like CNN retracting a story and threatening extortion charges against anyone who dares to mirror the old version.
      • by Nyder (754090)

        You're kidding, right? This is clear-cut extortion. You don't have to threaten to commit a criminal act to be guilty of extortion: all you need to do is threaten to do something unpleasant and demand something in exchange for not doing it. "Give me $5 or I'll punch you" is extortion, but so is "Give me $5 or I'll tell everyone you have a crush on Suzie", even though saying so is not a crime, and even though Suzie may already know.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extortion [wikipedia.org]

        Pay up or I'll sue you.

        • by Nyder (754090)

          You're kidding, right? This is clear-cut extortion. You don't have to threaten to commit a criminal act to be guilty of extortion: all you need to do is threaten to do something unpleasant and demand something in exchange for not doing it. "Give me $5 or I'll punch you" is extortion, but so is "Give me $5 or I'll tell everyone you have a crush on Suzie", even though saying so is not a crime, and even though Suzie may already know.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extortion [wikipedia.org]

          Pay up or I'll sue you.

          Pay me royalties for patents i have, that may or may not apply, or I'll sue you.

      • Re:No laws borken? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tom (822) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:29AM (#40395689) Homepage Journal

        Actually, depending on jurisdiction there are these small, but important, differences.

        Where I live, for example, it is only extortion if you threaten someone with illegal consequences. So beating them up if they don't pay is extortion, but telling his wife about his mistress if he doesn't is not.

      • But give me 5 dollar or I tell everyone about this post of yours on slashdot, that is a bit less clear. How can you extort someone with information they published themselves?

        Also, for a financial institution, it is illegal to have information so readily available. Who is the bigger criminal here?

        If I exort your by saying give me a fiver or I will tell everyone where you buried your victims MIGHT see the police question me but it is YOU that will end up in jail.

        Go ahead bank, file charges against the hackers

        • by goodmanj (234846)

          "Who is the bigger criminal here?"

          One crime doesn't excuse another. AmeriCash might receive a substantial fine, but Rex Mundi is looking at serious jail time if they get caught. Since they've done this more than once, they can be prosecuted under US racketeering law, which means decades in federal jail, forfeiture of assets, etc.

        • by goodmanj (234846)

          "But give me 5 dollar or I tell everyone about this post of yours on slashdot, that is a bit less clear. How can you extort someone with information they published themselves?"

          There's a difference between accidental exposure of embarassing material and deliberate publication. This is more like if a love letter from my mistress fell out of my briefcase and you picked it up. Yes I should have been more careful, but you're still committing a crime.

          "Go ahead bank, file charges against the hackers"

          The bank doe

      • This here is an example of not using appropriate sources:

        You're kidding, right? This is clear-cut extortion. You don't have to threaten to commit a criminal act to be guilty of extortion: all you need to do is threaten to do something unpleasant and demand something in exchange for not doing it. "Give me $5 or I'll punch you" is extortion, but so is "Give me $5 or I'll tell everyone you have a crush on Suzie", even though saying so is not a crime, and even though Suzie may already know.

        http://en.wikipedia.o [wikipedia.org]

  • Customers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vintermann (400722) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:10AM (#40395267) Homepage

    [We] are cooperating fully with the authorities to protect our customers and bring these criminals to justice.

    First time protecting their customers was part of these people's business model.

  • Not only was this page unsecured, it was actually referenced in their robots.txt file.

    I.e., they left the front door open and attached a post-it saying "please don't look under the shelf".

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Not only was this page unsecured, it was actually referenced in their robots.txt file.

      I.e., they left the front door open and attached a post-it saying "please don't look under the shelf".

      in a building that had a constant stream of visitors. don't forget that.

    • More specifically, they said "please don't look under the shelf IF YOU ARE A ROBOT"

    • Re:robots.txt (Score:5, Insightful)

      by psiclops (1011105) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:48AM (#40395771)

      and then someone came and looked under the shelf anyway, found embarrassing photos that would be incredibly embarrassing to you and thousands of your friends. made copies of the photos and tried to illegally extort money from you.

  • My heroes! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:41AM (#40395453)

    So basically, they're coming to the defense of customers being ripped off by this lender, and are they're going to show 'em who's boss by widening the customers' exposure to identity theft? Wow, there's some moral high ground there. The customers must be so grateful.

    "Howdy neighbor. I happened to hear you beating your wife last night. You can give me $1000 and I'll go away quietly. Otherwise, I'll give her another beating myself."

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Wow, there's some moral high ground there.

      The people you are talking about are sociopathic, socially inadequate egotistical fantasits, if you're being generous, and simple criminals if you're not. Morals don't come into it either way.

    • by Sqr(twg) (2126054)

      To which AmeriCash shouted back, loud enough for everyone to hear:

      "A thousand dollars? Are you nuts? Just come over here and see how much I care about my wife!"

Science and religion are in full accord but science and faith are in complete discord.

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