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By | Dan Goodin 30th April 2008 18:54

Nigerian duped gullible NASA employee

Looking for love in all the wrong places

A Nigerian man was sentenced to 18 months in prison after tricking a NASA employee into clicking on an email attachment that installed malware on her government-issued computer.

According to a Justice Department press release, the unnamed Washington-based employee received the email from an individual she had had met on an online dating site. As a result her computer passwords, bank account numbers, social security number, driver's license information and address were all disclosed.

NASA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) began investigating the breach in December 2006 and quickly traced the attacker to Nigeria. A joint investigative team comprising Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), US Attorneys in Washington and New York and the OIG's computer crimes division convened an undercover operation that eventually led to 27-year-old Akeem Adejumo, who according to a court document also went by the name of Stephen Williams.

Adejumo pleaded guilty to two counts of obtaining goods by false pretenses and forgery and was sentenced to 18 months in prison by the Lagos State High Court in Nigeria.

The success this international team had in identifying the culprit is impressive. But it's important to note that this breach never would have happened without the cooperation of one very gullible (and likely delinquent) NASA employee. There's no word whether she has been fired or disciplined, or whether NASA has taken steps to prevent similar episodes from happening again. A NASA spokesman said he was looking in to the matter. ®

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