News and Press Releases

Contract Dispute Leads to Illegal Computer Intrusion Against Former Client

January 8, 2009

Minecode, LLC a computer programming and web design company, it’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and a project manager for the company all pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to misdemeanor counts of Computer Intrusion. Company President and CEO PRADYUMNA SAMAL, and Project Manager SANDEEP VERMA face up to one year in prison on each count. MINECODE faces up to five years of probation, and has agreed to pay restitution to the victim company of at least $120,000. Fines of up to $100,000 for the individuals and up to $240,000 for the company can also be imposed. Sentencing in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler is scheduled for April 8, 2008.

“Computer intrusion is a serious crime,” said U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sullivan. “Our U.S. Attorney’s Office is on the cutting edge when it comes to prosecuting computer crime. Whether it is a hacker seeking to harm our citizens, or misguided businessmen using technology to escalate a dispute, these crimes will be investigated and prosecuted.”

According to records filed in the case, in the summer of 2006, an e-commerce wine supplier Vinado, Inc., hired Minecode, LLC to design some features for its website including a “virtual gift shop.” In the fall of 2006, a contract dispute developed between the two companies. In December 2006, at the direction of President and CEO SAMAL, the Project Manager VERMA went into the Vinado website and disabled the “virtual gift shop” function by removing two programs. This resulted in a loss to Vinado of more than $5,000. Vinado was able to restore the programs a few days later. On January 30, 2007, CEO SAMAL caused commands to be transmitted to Vinado’s website that resulted in the deletion of Vinado’s website, e-mail server and database in its entirety. The damage to Vinado was at least $115,000.

SAMAL and Minecode are charged with, and have pleaded guilty to, two counts of Computer Intrusion. VERMA is charged with, and has pleaded guilty to, one count of Computer Intrusion.

The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James M. Lord.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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