News for Public Officials and the People They Serve

Deputies in Texas, Police in Florida Scammed

Provided access to secure database used by law enforcement

 

According to a complaint filed by the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of Florida in Miami. five men ranging in age from nineteen to twenty four are accused of scamming  their way into databases used by law enforcement.

Nineteen year old Justin  A. Perras from New Bedford, Massachusetts is accused of conning the Denton County Sheriff's Department in Texas into providing passwords to the department's Accurint account.

 

The complaint said Timothy McKeage of Woonsocket, R.I.; planted a "Trojan horse" computer virus on the computer system of the Port Orange Police Department in Florida to gain access to the Accurint database that the police used.

 

According to a criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in Miami, Perras and McKeage were part of a group of "avid computer users who participated in online communications with each other and with other individuals."

 

The others include Jason Daniel Hawks and Jeffrey, Zachary Wiley Mann and Jeffrey Robert Weinberg, the complaint said. A report in the Washington Post  identified  Hawks as 24, from Winston-Salem, N.C., Mann as 19, from Maple Grove, MN and Weinberg as 21, from Laguna Beach, Calif.

 

The five  men are charged with conspiracy to hack into Accurint's large database used by law-enforcement agencies and steal the personal information of several individuals

 

The individuals affected are identified only by initials in the indictment, but according to a report in the Washington Post, the case involves stolen information about several celebrities, including hotel heiress Paris Hilton, actors Laurence Fishburne and Demi Moore, and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

 

The five men were arrested June 22 and released on bail, and the five men face arraignment in U.S. District Court in Miami on July 12. Mann could face up to five years in prison for separate charges of conspiracy and computer fraud and up to two years in prison for a third charge of aggravated identity theft, according to a complaint filed by the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of Florida in Miami.

 

McKeage provided Weinberg and other co-conspirators with fraudulently created user names and passwords that allowed access to the Port Orange Police Department's Accurint account. Perras distributed user names and passwords to the group, too.

 

Sometime around Jan. 30, 2005, Mann obtained two Accurint reports with the names, address, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of two individuals, and around April 14, he posted portions of one of the reports on the Internet, the complaint said.

The information included not only the person's name and Social Security number but also his criminal history, according to the complaint.

 

The defendants are from across the country, but the U.S. attorney's office in Miami is handling the case. The hacked database, called Accurint, was owned by a company in Boca Raton, Fla., called Seisint.

 

According to the Accurint website, "Accurint is the most widely accepted locate-and-research tool available to government, law enforcement and commercial customers. Its proprietary data-linking technology returns search results in seconds to the user’s desktop."

 

The products are made possible by integrating powerful technology, tens of billions of data records on individuals and businesses. Key features include: People Search… locates neighbors, associates and possible relatives.

Seisint was purchased by the database giant LexisNexis in September 2004, the complaint said. LexisNexis in April 2005 revealed that criminals may have gained access to the files of 310,000 people in breaches of its databases dating back to January 2003.


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