Oilpro shuts down months after founder pleaded guilty to theft

oilproPopular oil and gas networking website Oilpro.com will permanently shut down Wednesday, about seven months after its founder pleaded guilty to stealing data from rival site Rigzone. The website said Monday “it is with great sadness that we announce the closure of Oilpro.com.” Oilpro was touted as a professional network for oil and gas professionals, essentially LinkedIn for the energy sector.

“Many years ago, we set out to create a vibrant online community of oil and gas professionals. To that end, we were successful – you were successful,” the Oilpro message added.

Oilpro founder and former CEO David Kent was arrested by the FBI last year for hacking a competitor that he had previously created and sold. Kent, of Spring, was accused of stealing database information from Rigzone in order to expand Oilpro’s membership. All the while, Kent was trying to sell Oilpro to Rigzone’s parent company, New York-based DHI Group, authorities said.

Kent was allegedly seeking at least $20 million for a potential Oilpro sale. He previously sold Rigzone to DHI for $51 million in 2010.

In December, Kent pleaded guilty to a federal charge of computer fraud. A civil lawsuit by DHI against Kent is pending.

Authorities say he stole information from more than 700,000 customer accounts from early 2014 through much of 2015.

Oilpro made its debut in 2013. By January 2016 its membership exceeded 500,000, about 20 percent of whom came from the hacked Rigzone databases, according to the criminal complaint. Oilpro would reach out to Rigzone members via email and offer to register them for free, investigators concluded.

In 2000, Kent and his father started Rigzone, which featured oil and gas information as well as details on jobs in Houston and worldwide. The Rigzone membership database alone was valued at $6 million at the time, according to the federal complaint.

Kent left Rigzone one year after the sale and started Oilpro as soon as his non-compete agreement ended.

(Source: Houston Chronicle)

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