The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

April 30, 2010

Cops: Man hacks kids' account, buys porn

BEAVER SPRINGS — A 57-year-old Lewistown man has been charged with stealing $500 raised by middle school students to purchase porn videos from an Internet site.

Harry Peter Marenic has been charged with forgery, access device fraud, and theft by deception, for 20 unauthorized withdrawals from a Swineford National Bank account owned by the West Snyder Music Booster Club.

The transactions, occurring between May 5, 2009, and Aug. 17, 2009, came through three different companies: Web Transactions Services, NBCHECK.COM and Gorhatch Systems. The companies operate as billing agents for subscription Web sites.

Marisa Howard, treasurer of the booster club, said only the music and band director, and club officials, are authorized to access the account.

Howard discovered the unauthorized withdrawals when she received bank statements to complete a treasury report in September. The statements were being received at the school during the summer.

"I saw it right away," she said.

Howard called one of the billing agents and was advised the transactions were made by Marenic for two Web sites selling pornography videos.

Police obtained a search warrant and seized Marenic's computers at his home.

Snyder County Judge Harold Woelfel Jr. supplied a court order for police to obtain all account information pertaining to the booster club's account from Web Transactions Services. The information, received in February, listed the billing history and several transaction numbers.

A bank security manager told police that Marenic closed an account with Swineford in 2008. Only the last digit in his former account number and that of the booster club were different. It is probable, the bank security manager said, that Marenic used his old account number and changed the last digit until he found an account number that worked.

Some of the money has been paid back from the bank, Howard said.

"Our kids work really hard to earn every dollar," she said. "It took them a lot of time and effort to earn that money."

The booster club supports band and chorus activities throughout the year.

A hearing is scheduled for July 6.

n E-mail comments to tpursell@dailyitem.com.

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