Marquis Hooper, a 32-year-old former Navy IT Manager from Selma, California, was sentenced to five years and five months in prison for hacking a computer database that contained personally identifiable information (PII) and selling it on the dark web for $160,000 in Bitcoin.
Hooper falsely claimed to be conducting Navy background checks to gain unauthorized access to a database containing personal information, US Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court records, Hooper opened an online account back in August 2018 with a company running a large database containing the PII of millions of people. The company only allows access to business and government agencies with a demonstrated lawful PII need.
Using false Navy credentials, Hooper claimed that he needed to perform “background checks.” He also added his wife, Natasha Chalk, to the account. She’s a co-defendant in the case, scheduled to be sentenced on November 20th.
The woman faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The actual sentence, however, will depend on relevant legal factors and Federal Sentencing Guidelines, considering various variables.
“At least some of the individuals to whom Hooper and Chalk sold the PII used it to commit further crimes. For example, one individual used the PII to create a fake driver’s license and then tried to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account,” the press release by the US Attorney’s Office reads.
It took about five months to close Hooper’s database account for suspected fraud in December 2018.
The couple had another unindicted co-conspirator who tried to regain access to the database by opening a new account as instructed by Hooper. Hooper offered to pay the new “background checker” $2,500 for each month that the database account was opened.
However, after submitting an application, the database company told the co-conspirator that a Navy supply officer had to sign the contract.
Hooper didn’t back down, providing multiple fake documents for Naval supply officer identification, including a false contract, a fake driver’s license, and a forged letter purporting to be from a commanding officer in the Navy. According to the press release, the database company declined the opening of a new account after submission of the fake documents.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations were all involved in the case.
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