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ITMG Insider Threat Cases – December 7, 2020


Chinese professor pleads guilty to lying to FBI in Huawei-related case

A Chinese professor accused by U.S. prosecutors of helping steal American technology to benefit China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd on Friday pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but is expected to be allowed to return home after prosecutors decided not to pursue a more serious charge. The professor, Bo Mao, had been charged with conspiring to defraud Silicon Valley’s CNEX Labs and faced up to 20 years behind bars. He was a visiting professor at the University of Texas when he was arrested in August 2019.

Former Harvard-Affiliated Researcher Pleads Guilty to Lying About Smuggled Cancer Research

Zaosong Zheng, a former researcher at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to lying to customs officials following charges he tried to smuggle cancer research to China. Zheng, a 31-year-old who arrived in the United States from China in 2018, was arrested Dec. 10, 2019 at Boston Logan International Airport. Customs officials found 21 vials of biological material in a sock packed in his suitcase which allegedly came from a lab at Beth Israel, where he worked. Zheng agreed in the plea to leave the country following his Jan. 6, 2021 sentencing hearing, though a judge will ultimately decide whether Zheng should face further penalties. The false statements charge comes with a potential of up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

California hacker who stole proprietary information from Nintendo sentenced to three years in prison

Seattle – A 21-year-old Palmdale, California, man was sentenced to three years in prison today in U.S. District Court in Seattle for federal crimes related to his computer hacking scheme and his possession of child pornography found on his digital devices, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  RYAN S. HERNANDEZ, aka Ryan West, who used the online moniker “RyanRocks,” pleaded guilty to a two-count information in January 2020. According to records filed in the case, in 2016, while still a minor, HERNANDEZ and an associate used a phishing technique to steal credentials of a Nintendo employee, which were exploited to gain access to and download confidential Nintendo files related to its consoles and games.  That stolen information, including pre-release information about the anticipated Nintendo Switch console, was leaked to the public. In October 2017, following an investigation into the hack, FBI agents contacted HERNANDEZ and his parents at their California residence.  HERNANDEZ promised to stop any further malicious activity and confirmed that he understood the consequences of any future hacking. Nevertheless, from at least June 2018 to June 2019, HERNANDEZ returned to his malicious activities, hacking into multiple Nintendo servers and stealing confidential information about various popular video games, gaming consoles, and developer tools.  HERNANDEZ boasted about his hacking exploits on several online and social media platforms, such as Twitter and Discord, and leaked some of the stolen information to others.  HERNANDEZ further operated an online chat forum called “Ryan’s Underground Hangout” in which he and others discussed Nintendo products and shared information about possible Nintendo network vulnerabilities, and on which he shared some of the confidential information he had stolen.

Bowie Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Wire Fraud Charge for Stealing More Than $233,000 from His Employer and Another Business

Greenbelt, Maryland – Howard Ware, age 42, of Bowie, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with a fraud scheme to steal more than $233,000 from his employer and another business. According to his guilty plea, Ware admitted that between March 18, 2018 and July 20, 2018, he stole over $233,040 from his employer and from a trucking business by submitting more than 2,118 fraudulent invoices for services that were not actually performed. As detailed in his plea agreement, Ware was an employee of Business 1, an environmental services company that operated a facility in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, to treat contaminated material.  As part of his job, Ware was supposed to coordinate the hauling of materials to and from the facility with trucking companies, including Business 2, a trucking company based in Charlotte Hall, Maryland.  Business 1 frequently hired Business 2 to haul material between the Upper Marlboro treatment facility and another facility that it operated.  Business 2 would hire subcontractors to haul material on Business 2’s behalf.

Man Pleads Guilty to Stealing $282,670 from Former Employer – Approved Payments to Fake Web Security Company

William Robinson, 41, a former employee of a non-profit corporation that advocates for policies related to safe food, safe drinking water, and the climate, pled guilty to the interstate transportation of funds stolen from the non-profit corporation. According to the Statement of Offense, Robinson was initially hired by the non-profit corporation in 2012 as a web developer.  After multiple promotions, he became its Chief Technology Officer in 2015.  While working at the non-profit corporation, Robinson devised a scheme to defraud by creating Vulcan Network & Data Security, LLC (“Vulcan”) and arranging a contract for Vulcan to provide web security services to his non-profit corporation employer.  Robinson then created false invoices on behalf of Vulcan and submitted them to his employer’s finance department, requesting payment for purported web security services, testing, and equipment.  In reality, Vulcan never provided any services to the non-profit corporation, which was already paying a separate company for those services.  From April 2017 to September 2019, Robinson submitted 13 false Vulcan invoices to his non-profit corporation employer.  The non-profit corporation paid Vulcan a total of $282,670 for services never provided.  Robinson received all of these funds and used them to pay for personal expenses.

Grand jury indicts trucking company employee on embezzlement charges

SAINT LOUIS, MO – A federal grand jury indicted Michelle Serth-Stein on five counts of wire fraud. The 50 year old is a resident of Smithton, Illinois. According to the indictment, between approximately October 2017 and August 2019, Serth-Stein embezzled monies from her employers to pay for retail expenditures and personal loans. Serth-Stein first worked at St. Louis-based Midwest Systems where she was the company’s driver recruiter. Serth-Stein’s role required submitting invoices for reimbursement of driver recruitment expenses. Serth-Stein, from October 2017 to January 2019, submitted false and fraudulent invoices to Midwest Systems for payments directed to Serth-Stein’s personal bank account. The company fired her on January 24, 2019.

5 Current/Former MTA Employees Charged With Extensive Overtime Fraud

Extraordinary Overtime Hours for LIRR and NYC Transit Employees Fueled by Fraudulent Claims; Defendants Were Being Paid While at Home, on Family Vacations or Bowling

“These defendants, senior LIRR and New York City Transit employees, allegedly made themselves some of the highest-paid employees at the entire MTA by claiming extraordinary, almost physically impossible, amounts of overtime.  As alleged, those almost impossible claims were fueled by brazen, repeated fraud, including falsely claiming to be working overtime hours while the defendants were at their homes or, in some instances, bowling.  All New Yorkers ultimately bear the burden of fraud targeting our mass transit systems, and we will continue to work tirelessly to expose and prosecute those who engage in it.  Our investigation remains ongoing.”

This entry was posted on Monday, December 7th, 2020 at 10:37 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.