Palestinian Arrested for Using Fake Web Sites to Defraud Israelis

A West Bank physics student was arrested late Saturday night for allegedly defrauding Bank Leumi customers and other using an online phishing scam.

Police believe that Mohammed Aalan, 22, a fourth-year physics student at Al Quds University in Abu Dis, created fake Web sites for Bank Leumi and the Bank of Israel, and lured his victims by sending purportedly official e-mails with links to his sites. The sites asked that users enter personal details, including credit card numbers, "for security reasons." When people fell for the scam, Aalan allegedly used their data to hack into their accounts or make purchases with their credit cards, police said.

Police launched an investigation after Bank Leumi's security chief filed a complaint about phishing scams.

Yesterday Aalan's remand was extended by four days, after a Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court judge was persuaded that police had solid evidence against him. The court rejected the police request for a 15-day remand extension.

Aalan denies the accusations. Police officials said he claims that other people used his computers, but did not give them additional details.

Last week the Bank of Israel warned of phishing attempts carried out through e-mail messages purporting to be from the central bank and containing a link to a Web site masquerading as that of BoI and requesting that users enter their personal details.

Bank Leumi officials noted that the bank does not generally e-mail its customers with links and require they enter their personal details, and warned against clicking on the links in any such e-mail messages.