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ITMG Insider Threat Cases – June 15, 2020

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Former DEA Official Pleads Guilty to Elaborate $4 Million Fraud Scheme

Former Spokesman (2005-2009) Scammed Victims by Posing Falsely as Covert CIA Officer Involved in a highly-classified Intelligence Program. A former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) public affairs officer pleaded guilty today to defrauding at least a dozen companies of over $4.4 million by posing falsely as a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Garrison Kenneth Courtney, 44, of Tampa, Florida, pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady. Sentencing has been scheduled for Oct. 23, 2020. According to court documents, Courtney falsely claimed to be a covert officer of the CIA involved in a highly-classified program or “task force” involving various components of the United States Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense. According to the false story told by Courtney, this supposed classified program sought to enhance the intelligence gathering capabilities of the United States government. In truth, Courtney had never been employed by the CIA, and the task force that he described did not exist.

Engineers Found Guilty of Stealing Micron Secrets for China

Chipmaker UMC fined NT$100 million for its employees’ crimes IP theft is a major flash point in U.S.-China trade war. A Taiwanese court ruled Friday that current and former engineers from United Microelectronics Corp. stole trade secrets from U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology Inc. and shared them with a government-backed mainland Chinese company, closing one chapter of a global dispute that’s stoked U.S.-Chinese tensions. The district court of Taichung fined UMC NT$100 million ($3.4 million) after finding three engineers guilty of theft or assisting in the alleged theft. The trio was jailed for periods ranging from 4.5 to 6.5 years and fined between NT$4 million and NT$6 million. The case is part of a years-long dispute spanning two continents that’s deepened divisions between Beijing and Washington. Intellectual property theft is among the Trump administration’s chief complaints as it wages a campaign to contain China that’s rattled global markets. China, which is trying to become a major player in semiconductors, has repeatedly denied that its companies poach trade secrets. UMC said it will appeal the ruling, saying it has mechanisms to protect its customers’ intellectual property rights and it did not violate trade secrets laws. “In its appeal against the ruling and the excessively disproportionate penalty, UMC will cite many irregularities in both the investigation and the case itself,” the Taiwanese company said in a statement.

Chinese Military Officer Arrested After Trying to Leave US

A Chinese military officer is accused of trying to leave the United States with a cache of scientific research conducted at a California university. Xin Wang, a high-ranking member of the People’s Liberation Army, was arrested Monday and charged with making false claims on his visa application. Wang arrived in the U.S. in March 2019 for a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California in San Francisco, where he researched the metabolic function of adipose tissue and worked on projects funded by grants from the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health, according to court documents filed Thursday. The arrest follows the Trump administration’s announcement last month that it would revoke thousands of visas held by Chinese graduate students and researchers in the U.S. who had ties to universities affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army.

Fifty-Four Scientists Have Lost Their Jobs as a Result of NIH Probe into Foreign Ties

Some 54 scientists have resigned or been fired as a result of an ongoing investigation by the National Institutes of Health into the failure of NIH grantees to disclose financial ties to foreign governments. In 93% of those cases, the hidden funding came from a Chinese institution. The new numbers come from Michael Lauer, NIH’s head of extramural research. Lauer had previously provided some information on the scope of NIH’s investigation, which had targeted 189 scientists at 87 institutions. But his presentation today to a senior advisory panel offered by far the most detailed breakout of an effort NIH launched in August 2018 that has roiled the U.S. biomedical community, and resulted in criminal charges against some prominent researchers, including Charles Lieber, chair of Harvard University’s department of chemistry and chemical biology.

Josh Schulte, former CIA engineer, indicted again in WikiLeaks case following mistrial

The Department of Justice on Tuesday renewed its case against Joshua Adam Schulte, a former CIA engineer suspected of being the source of the biggest leak in the agency’s history. A superseding indictment charging Schulte in connection with leaking classified CIA material to the WikiLeaks website was filed as expected in Manhattan federal court, where months earlier a mistrial was declared after a jury was unable to reach a verdict upon deliberating for days on whether or not to convict him over the same alleged criminal conduct. Schulte is suspected of leaking CIA hacking tools to WikiLeaks published by the website in 2017 as part of a series of releases it referred to as “Vault 7.” He has also been charged in connection with allegedly leaking classified information about his case to reporters while imprisoned ahead of trial, and furthermore he faces copyright and child pornography charges stemming from a search conducted of his computers.

Coinsquare Data Theft Flags Insider Threat Issue

Coinsquare, a Canadian crypto exchange that enables its users to trade Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies, confirmed that its customer information was stolen by an ex-employee last year. Cybercriminals laid their hands on this data and are now reportedly going to carry out SIM swapping attacks. According to Stacey Hoisak, Coinsquare’s general counsel, the data theft took place a year ago by a now ex-employee of the company from the Customer Service system. They had notified the law enforcement and data protection authorities concerned, as well as all known impacted users at the time as soon as the data theft was detected. As per Vice Media’s interview with an anonymous hacker, the cybercriminals want to “embarrass the company (Coinsquare) for claiming they were the most secure Canadian exchange on their website.” Initially, they thought of selling or auctioning this data which includes CoinSquare clients’ email addresses, phone numbers, and physical addresses. However, they later thought of using it in SIM swapping attacks as it would bring them additional monetary benefits.

Harvard University Professor and Two Chinese Nationals Charged in Three Separate China Related Cases

The Department of Justice announced today that the Chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department and two Chinese nationals have been charged in connection with aiding the People’s Republic of China.  Dr. Charles Lieber, 60, Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, was arrested this morning and charged by criminal complaint with one count of making a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement.  Lieber will appear this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts. Yanqing Ye, 29, a Chinese national, was charged in an indictment today with one count each of visa fraud, making false statements, acting as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy. Ye is currently in China. Zaosong Zheng, 30, a Chinese national, was arrested on Dec. 10, 2019, at Boston’s Logan International Airport and charged by criminal complaint with attempting to smuggle 21 vials of biological research to China.  On Jan. 21, 2020, Zheng was indicted on one count of smuggling goods from the United States and one count of making false, fictitious or fraudulent statements.  He has been detained since Dec. 30, 2019.

VA Employee Sentenced to 16 Years In Prison for Orchestrating $19M Health Care Corruption Scheme

A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employee has been sentenced to 16 years in federal prison for orchestrating a $19 million scheme that consisted of “health care fraud, conspiracy, payment of illegal kickbacks and gratuities, money laundering, and conflict of interest charges,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Joseph Prince, 61, had worked as a Case Management Liaison for the VA’s Spina Bifida (SB) Health Care Benefits program. Spina bifida (SB) itself is a medical condition that affects a person’s spine, one that can cause “physical and intellectual disabilities,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program that Prince worked with was designed to cover the medical health needs of children with spina bifida who were born to veterans of the Korea and Vietnam wars. “Acting as a subject matter expert working in a Denver call center, Prince spoke with health care providers and SB beneficiaries or their families regarding their health care needs and reimbursement for care under the program,” according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 15th, 2020 at 2:25 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.