John Schiefer, 26, agreed to plead guilty to four counts of fraud and wiretap charges that could lead to a $1.75 million fine and send him to prison for up to 60 years, the Los Angeles US Attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors said Schiefer and an unspecified number of conspirators installed malicious computer codes that acted as a wiretap on compromised computers and intercepted messages to paypal.com and similar websites.
He retrieved usernames and passwords and used them to access an unknown number of bank accounts. Prosecutors said they were still investigating how much money was stolen and the number of victims.
They said Schiefer worked by day as an information security consultant but was a well-known "Botmaster" among the underground network of hackers skilled in so-called "botnet attacks."