David Kent, the founder of Oilpro.com, a popular social media network for oil and gas professionals, has been arrested for charges relating to computer hacking and wire fraud.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Kent 40, was arrested on March 30, and has been charged for an alleged role in repeatedly hacking into a competitor’s database to steal customer information and attempting to sell Oilpro to the same company whose database Kent had hacked.
While the charges don’t explicitly name the competitor affected, it is believed Kent was charged for stealing data from Rigzone.com.
Rigzone is an oil and gas news, data and recruitment provider Kent had founded in 2000 and later sold to DHI Group for a reported amount of $51 million. Rigzone enables its members to create profiles, which include personal and professional information, and upload resumes.
Following the sale of Rigzone, Kent continued to serve as President of the website until September 2011, but he then left and in 2013 founded Oilpro, dubbed the LinkedIn of the oil and gas industry.
According to data from the Department of Justice, between October 2013 and February 2016, Kent conspired to access information belonging to “Website-1” (Rigzone) without authorization and to defraud Company-1 (DHI).
He allegedly accessed Rigzone’s Members Database without authorization and stole customer information, including information from over 700,000 customer accounts.
He is now accused of exploiting the illegally obtained information to invite Rigzone members into joining Oilpro.
Similarly, the charge further reads, one of Kent’s employees at Oilpro who previously worked for Rigzone accessed information in Rigzone’s Google Analytics account without authorization and forwarded the information to Kent.
According to the charge, Kent, who reportedly planned to sell Oilpro to DHI as well, tried to defraud DHI by misrepresenting during discussions about a potential acquisition of Oilpro by DHI that Oilpro had increased its membership through standard marketing methods such as asking its members to upload their LinkedIn contacts to Oilpro. Oilpro would afterwards reach out to these contacts inviting them to join the network.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriquez said: “In this case, a profitable business was sold for approximately $51 million. Allegedly, however, instead of relinquishing control of his former company, subject David Kent continued to illegally access data and information from his former business to help benefit a competing business he formed after the sale. Unauthorized access to a protected computer system is a federal crime. The FBI will investigate and bring to justice criminal actors who commit computer intrusions, whether the unauthorized access is to a personal computer or a corporate server.”
According to the information on the Department of Justice website Kent, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and wire fraud, which carries a maximum term of five years in prison, and one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison, however, any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
The Oilpro website, reportedly valued by Kent at more than $20 million, has been down for a few days now. A message on the website says the reason was “an outage”.
(Source: Offshore Energy Today)