Canadian ‘419er’ released without charge

Reverse sting comes unstuck


Prosecutors dropped all charges against a Canadian man implicated in a '419' advanced fraud fee racket this week, much to the annoyance of a Conneticut woman who helped police arrest him.

Nicholas Horvath-Howard, 24, was released without charge after both federal authorities and the State of Connecticut decided not to prosecute, following his arrest in a reverse-sting operation last week.

Horvath-Howard, flew to the US from Toronto in the expectation of collecting $200,000 from Heidi Evans, a Connecticut estate agent. Unknown to him, Evans had been stringing along a group of advanced fee fraudsters for months.

So instead of meeting a potential mark, Horvath-Howard was met instead by US Secret Service agents and members of the local police.

Horvath-Howard was subsequently charged with first-degree attempted larceny and held in custody pending the payment of a $250,000 bond.

But by the time the case went back to Danbury Superior Court on Monday (November 10), prosecutors had decided to abandon the case.

The decision has left Evans fuming.

"No wonder the scam proliferates – even when we catch them, no one will prosecute," Evans told El Reg.

Before Horvath-Howard travelled to the US to meet Evans, she received a cheque from the perpetrators of the fraud. She was instructed to pay in the cheque to her account and hand over a cash sum in return to Horvath-Howard. Of course these cheques are forgeries but by the time a victim finds this out from their bank the fraudsters are long gone.

Evans is ready to believe Horvath-Howard may "not have known much about the money... but I’m quite sure he at least knew who hired him – which would be the man who sent the check [cheque]."

"Ironically, if I had actually deposited the cheque I would be facing a multitude of charges right now. But creating and sending the cheques doesn’t seem to be a crime anymore."

"Unless money has been lost the authorities just don’t care. They don’t want to have to work to get a guilty verdict," she added.

US Attorney Kevin O’Connor declined to explain why the Horvath-Howard case was dropped but he assured local paper The News-Times of Danbury, Connecticut that the authorities were committed to clamping down on Internet fraud.

"People should not infer that we are not committed to doing these cases at all,” he said.

O’Connor is unaware of his office ever prosecuting someone for involvement in a "Nigerian 419" email fraud case. But he The News-Times that his office "aggressively goes after perpetrators of Internet identity theft". ®

Related Stories

Canadian '419er' arrested
Pensioner accused of AUS $5m Nigerian scam
How to beat the 419 scammers
Reg to attend 3rd Annual Nigerian Email Conference
Nigerian 419 fraudster baiting - Olympic sport?


Other stories you might like

  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading
  • Cloud security unicorn cuts 20% of staff after raising $1.3b
    Time to play blame bingo: Markets? Profits? Too much growth? Russia? Space aliens?

    Cloud security company Lacework has laid off 20 percent of its employees, just months after two record-breaking funding rounds pushed its valuation to $8.3 billion.

    A spokesperson wouldn't confirm the total number of employees affected, though told The Register that the "widely speculated number on Twitter is a significant overestimate."

    The company, as of March, counted more than 1,000 employees, which would push the jobs lost above 200. And the widely reported number on Twitter is about 300 employees. The biz, based in Silicon Valley, was founded in 2015.

    Continue reading
  • Talos names eight deadly sins in widely used industrial software
    Entire swaths of gear relies on vulnerability-laden Open Automation Software (OAS)

    A researcher at Cisco's Talos threat intelligence team found eight vulnerabilities in the Open Automation Software (OAS) platform that, if exploited, could enable a bad actor to access a device and run code on a targeted system.

    The OAS platform is widely used by a range of industrial enterprises, essentially facilitating the transfer of data within an IT environment between hardware and software and playing a central role in organizations' industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) efforts. It touches a range of devices, including PLCs and OPCs and IoT devices, as well as custom applications and APIs, databases and edge systems.

    Companies like Volvo, General Dynamics, JBT Aerotech and wind-turbine maker AES are among the users of the OAS platform.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022