Suspended jail term for internet identity thief

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 March, 2007, 12:00am

A 'highly intelligent' university student who tried to steal internet user names and passwords using a bogus website so she could use them to enjoy online entertainment was given a six-month suspended jail sentence yesterday.

Chen Li-mee, 25, had pleaded guilty in Eastern Court to five counts of obtaining access to a computer with dishonest intent and three of theft.

Principal Magistrate David Thomas said the case showed internet users needed to guard against people who 'lurk in the background to take full advantage of our naivete'.

The court heard that last July Chen sent e-mails to subscribers of Netvigator, the broadband arm of telecom company PCCW, asking them to confirm their personal data through a hyperlink connected to the forged website.

She had planned to use their accounts to enjoy music, movies and games provided by and, which cost HK$30 and HK$48 a month respectively.

But none of the 15 e-mail recipients fell for her scheme.

She had found the e-mail addresses using popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo! and sent the e-mails from computers at her home, a coffee shop, the Polytechnic University where she studied and the Office of the Telecommunications Authority, where she was a summer intern.

Chen also admitted that between February 2001 and January 2004, she stole four letters, containing Netvigator passwords and usernames, from family members of a student she tutored. She also ransacked another Netvigator e-mail account and found a gift-redemption letter she used to get a webcam.

The court heard Chen sent the baiting e-mails with a sender address she stole from the mother of her student, and applied for the multimedia entertainment services on behalf of the mother.

The investigation was launched after the mother found an additional charge on her bills.

Imposing the jail term, suspended for two years, Mr Thomas said he understood Chen was remorseful and in the middle of getting a business degree at Polytechnic University. He deemed her 'highly intelligent and extremely manipulative' in devising the scheme with skills honed during her work experience.

The Crime Commercial Bureau yesterday confirmed this is the first conviction for running a bogus website for a fraudulent scheme.