Seattle Man Sentenced To Prison For Computer Hacking, Fraud And Identity Theft

Joshuah Allen Witt, 35, of Seattle was sentenced yesterday to 95 months in prison and three years of supervised release for a crime spree that involved both physical burglary, and hacking into computer systems to steal personal and business information used in a variety of thefts and frauds.

The sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.

Witt was indicted in September 2011 and pleaded guilty in April 2012 to conspiracy to intentionally access a protected computer without authorization with intent to defraud, intentionally causing and attempting to cause damage to a protected computer and thereby causing loss in excess of $5,000, accessing a protected computer without authorization to further fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Over the 30 months of this conspiracy, more than fifty local businesses were damaged and defrauded of more than $3 million. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said the crime impacted an enormous number of people. “For some of these individuals it will be years, if not a lifetime, to recover from the conduct you engaged in,” Judge Jones told Witt.

According to records in the case, beginning in 2008 and continuing into 2010, WITT, and two other defendants, John Earl Griffin, 36, and Brad Eugene Lowe, 39, hacked the networks of more than a dozen businesses and burgled more than 40 businesses to steal equipment and obtain personal and business information used for fraud. The ring obtained credit card numbers and used them to purchase tens of thousands of dollars of high tech equipment and luxury goods that they used or sold. They hijacked payroll information so that payroll funds would be distributed to accounts under their control and sent company funds to reloadable debit cards, allowing them to rapidly cash out the company accounts. The ring broke into businesses and stole computer equipment which they then used to hack into the company’s network. The men outfitted at least one vehicle with high tech equipment, including extensive antennas, allowing them to search for wireless networks they could use both for hacking or to hide their ‘digital fingerprints’ when they accessed a company network. The steps they took to hide their identities led to innocent third parties or company employees being suspected and interviewed by law enforcement. From one Renton, Washington, business the men hacked in and stole the personal information of more than 50 employees.

In May 2012, John Earl Griffin, was sentenced to 95 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Brad Eugene Lowe, 39, was sentenced to 78 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In August 2012, Judge Jones will determine the amount of restitution the men owe. The figure is expected to be in excess of $3 million.

Source: United States Attorney’s Office, Western District Of Washington

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