A former US Navy IT manager who illegally accessed a database holding personally identifiable information (PII) and sold it on the dark web was given a five years and five months prison sentence.
When Marquis Cooper, 32, of Selma, California, registered an account with a business that manages a PII database for millions of people in August 2018, he was a chief petty officer in the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet.
The corporation, which the US Department of Justice did not name in its press announcement regarding Cooper’s imprisonment, only allows organizations and government agencies with proof of a legitimate legal need access to its database.
Hooper, however, obtained an account by making up a requirement from the Navy that he run background checks on people. Every database report that was run with the heading “FOR GOVERNMENT PURPOSES ONLY.”
However, this did not stop Hooper and his co-defendant Natasha Chalk from stealing over 9000 people’s personal information from the account and selling it to scammers on the dark web. Hooper and Chalk are said to have earned US $160,000 in Bitcoin during the two and a half months that the scheme was active.
Meanwhile, fraudsters attempted to take money from victims’ bank accounts and created bogus driver’s licenses using the information that had been exposed.
Hooper’s database account was canceled in December 2018 due to suspicions of fraud. Law enforcement claims that Hooper and Chalk then made an attempt to recover access to the information by proposing to pay an uncharged conspirator $2,500 per month to start a new account on their behalf and keep access.
Hooper gave his accomplice a false contract that listed a second victim of identity theft as a Navy supply officer who was approving the transaction in order to aid in the new application for access to the private information. Hooper provided a false victim’s driver’s license and a bogus letter from a superior officer approving the access when the corporation requested additional proof.
Fortunately, the database business decided not to establish the account, preventing the private information of many innocent people from ending up in the hands of scammers.
This week, Marquis Hooper received a prison term of five years and five months. On November 20, 2023, Natasha Chalk, his 39-year-old wife, will receive her punishment.