LOS ANGELES - A Southern California manager of an international computer hacking ring was sentenced today to five years in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney General's Office announced today.
Nichole Michelle Merzi, 26, of Oceanside was accused of being one of the main players in the "phishing" operation that used spam, emails and bogus websites to collect personal information used to defraud American banks, say federal authorities.
Last year, jurors found Merzi guilty of bank and wire fraud conspiracy, aggravated identity theft, computer fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy charges, federal officials stated.
As a result of a multinational investigation tabbed "Operation Phish Phry," 47 people have been convicted in federal court in Los Angeles. The investigation conducted in the U.S. and Egypt led to charges being filed against 100 people, according to federal officials.
Also arrested was Merzi's former boyfriend Kenneth Joseph Lucas II. He was sentenced to 13 years stemming from a phishing scheme and from an indoor marijuana grow operation, say federal authorities.
Operation Phish Phry was the largest number of defendants ever charged in a cybercrime case, federal authorities said.