Add one more reason to the list to tread carefully while using file sharing services—not only could you contract a virus or end up writing a four-figure check to the RIAA, you could also have your identity stolen. A Seattle man was arrested this week for doing just that, using popular P2P programs LimeWire and Soulseek to search for personal documents on other users' computers that were running the same software.
Authorities say that the man, Gregory Thomas Kopiloff, bought over $73,000 worth of goods online using the information from at least 83 individuals between March 2005 and August 2007. He had the items shipped to various addresses, which, according to a copy of the indictment seen by Ars Technica, authorities say was meant to conceal his activities. Many of the things he purchased were electronics, such as an 80GB iPod, Shure headphones, and a Lacie 2TB hard drive, which he then resold online.
Kopiloff was able to purchase these items by digging up information from bank, tax, and student loan documents from unsuspecting LimeWire and Soulseek users' computers. He then used that information to access people's personal bank accounts, and in some cases, open up credit cards in their names. These users had unwittingly instructed the applications to share all documents on their computers, not just movie and music files. However, the indictment also specifies that Kopiloff installed the P2P software with such permissions onto "computers in his possession" so that his scheme could be perpetuated, leading us to believe that he may have worked as a computer repair tech of some sort before his arrest.
Kopiloff's scheme wasn't entirely P2P-based, though. The indictment acknowledges that some part of the personal information he obtained came from good, old-fashioned dumpster diving—that is, digging through trash to find paper documents that people have simply thrown away. The indictment doesn't say exactly what percentage of the documents were obtained through this manner, however.
The US Department of Justice says that this is the first case against someone accused of file sharing in order to commit identity theft,according to the Associated Press. Kopiloff is now being charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of mail fraud, and one count of illegally accessing a personal computer.