A former IT manager for the US Navy is facing a five-and-a-half year prison sentence for selling thousands of people’s personal records on the dark web.
While still a chief petty officer, Marquis Hooper accessed a database containing millions of records and over the course of five months sold details of more than 9,000 people online.
Prosecutors said the total sum generated by Hooper and his wife, Natasha Chalk, co-defendant in the case and former Navy reservist, reached the equivalent of $160,000 in Bitcoin.
The data sold online was then used by criminals. In one case, data was purchased, used to create a fake driver’s license, which was then used in an attempt to withdraw money from a bank.
Hooper’s sentence was far less severe than the maximum he faced – 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
The prosecutors’ sentencing suggestions, as reported by Law360, acknowledged Hooper’s lack of criminal history and willingness to accept responsibility, but argued that due to his military status he “should be punished harshly”.
Inside the crime
Court records indicated that in August 2018, Hooper opened an account with an unnamed company that runs a database from which he later went on to steal.
Hooper falsely represented himself to the company, telling it that he required access to the database’s personally identifiable information (PII) to fulfill background checks for the Navy. The company limits access to its database only to businesses and government agencies that have a lawful reason to use the data it holds.
The company closed Hooper’s account in December of the same year after it suspected fraudulent activity was taking place.
Hooper and Chalk unsuccessfully tried to gain access to the database again using another account which they asked an unnamed, unindicted co-conspirator to open on their behalf.
Using the same method Hooper had used months earlier, they instructed the co-conspirator to open the account under the pretense that the Navy required it for background checks. He also offered to pay them $2,500 for every month the account remained open.
This was initially refused, with the company that ran the database asking for a Navy supply officer to sign a contract between it and the co-conspirator to prove that the intended purpose for the account was legitimate.
Furthering their illicit activities, Hooper generated fake documents using the PII he stole from the database in a bid to convince the company that the signatory of the contract was a genuine Navy supply officer, a role with the authority to procure services.
Hooper and Chalk’s attempts to open the second account were unsuccessful after submitting the documents, which included a fake contract and driver’s license, as well as a forged letter from a Navy commanding officer.
Chalk, facing the same maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, is due to be sentenced on November 20. ®