This is not the Skynet you know from The Terminator. This Skynet was a dark web forum used by those looking to purchase or sell stolen credit card information.
According to the Justice Department, Michael D. Mihalo Jr. was the founder of Skynet and “personally possessed, sent, and received the information associated with 49,084 stolen payment cards”. The Justice Department also said Mihalo earned a minimum of $1 million from this forum, and these funds have since appreciated.
Mihalo pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, one count of access device fraud, and six counts of money laundering. He will be sentenced on a later date. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the conspiracy count and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each of the remaining counts.https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/man-pleads-guilty-conspiracy-sell-stolen-financial-information-dark-web
Additionally, a co-conspirator named Taylor Ross Staats pled guilty on 12/14/22 for being a “card-checker”. This position makes sure the stolen financial information sold by Mihalo has not been already cancelled by the issuing organization. In other words, he would make sure a Mastercard number would still be active when they sold it on the forum.
[00:00:00] Keith: Skynet Dark Web market founder pleads guilty. Now, this is not the Skynet you know from the Terminator. This Skynet was a dark web forum used by those looking to either purchase or sell stolen credit card information. According to the Justice Department, Michael Mihalo Jr. Was the founder of Skynet and personally possessed, sent and received the information associated with nearly 50,000 stolen payment cards. The Justice Department also said Mihalo earned a minimum of a million from this forum, and these funds have since appreciated. Now from the Justice Department press release they say Mihalo pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, one count of access device fraud, and six counts of money laundering.
[00:00:55] He will be sentenced on a later date. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the conspiracy count and maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each of the remaining counts. So additionally, a co-conspirator named Tyler Ross Staats, S T A A T S looks like STAs to me. So Taylor pled guilty on December 14th, 2022 for being a quote unquote card checker.
[00:01:26] And what that is, is this position makes sure that the stolen financial information sold by Mihalo had not already been canceled by the issuing organization. So you can imagine if someone thinks that their credit card information has been stolen, they will call their credit card company and say, I think my credit card’s been stolen, and the credit card then puts a stop on that credit card.
[00:01:49] This position in the criminal organization does the checking of the cards to make sure this process hasn’t happened and that the people that purchased the cards would presumably have cards that they could get stolen funds from.
[00:02:05] So in other words, he would just make sure a MasterCard number that they were selling on the forums would be active at the time it was sold on the forum. So I hope you enjoyed this real quick eCrimeBytes nibble. If you did, I want to invite you over to our longer episodes where we take about 30 to 60 minutes and my co-host, Seth and myself, we take cases like this and we get a little deeper on them. So if you enjoyed this topic, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy our topics over there where we get a little deeper. And I hope to see you on one of those episodes soon. Thanks. Bye.
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