Defendant Sentenced in Scheme to Steal Online International Hotel Customer Identification Information

Defendant Threatened to Sell Stolen Customer Identity Information
if a Silver Spring, Maryland Hotel Company Would Not Hire Him

August 10, 2011

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. sentenced Marc A. Schoen, age 55, of Boynton Beach, Florida, today to four months incarceration, followed by four months home detention and two years of supervised release, for sending emails to a hotel corporation threatening to impair the confidentiality of customer information Schoen had unlawfully obtained from a protected hotel computer. Judge Williams also ordered that Schoen pay a $5,000 fine.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to Schoen’s plea agreement, between July and September, 2010, Schoen exchanged numerous emails with Choice Hotels International, Inc., a corporation which franchised hotels in the United States and abroad under brand names which included Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion and Econo Lodge. Choice Hotels maintained corporate offices in Silver Spring, Maryland and maintained its computer servers in Arizona and Maryland.

Schoen alerted Choice Hotels that he had identified flaws in its computer databases that left unprotected the company’s customer database and the data it contained, including customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, email addresses, credit card numbers and credit card expiration dates. Schoen emailed Choice Hotels samples of the data contained in its customer database. Schoen asked Choice Hotels to hire him to fix its security flaws. In an email dated August 2, 2010, Schoen threatened that if Choice Hotels refused to hire him, he would sell the data contained in Choice’s customer databases.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant United States Attorney Mara Zusman Greenberg, who is prosecuting the case.

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