FRESNO, Calif. — Former Navy IT Manager Marquis Hooper, 32, of Selma, California, was sentenced today to five years and five months in prison for hacking a computer database that contained personally identifiable information (PII) and selling it, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court records, in August 2018, Hooper opened an online account with a company that runs a database containing the PII for millions of people. The company restricts access to the database to businesses and government agencies that have a demonstrated, lawful need for the PII. Hooper, however, opened his database account by falsely representing to the company that the Navy needed him to perform background checks.
After Hooper opened his database account, he added his wife and co-defendant, Natasha Chalk, to the account. They then stole over 9,000 people’s PII and sold it to other individuals on the dark web for $160,000 in bitcoin.
At least some of the individuals to whom Hooper and Chalk sold the PII used it to commit further crimes. For example, one individual used the PII to create a fake driver’s license and then tried to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
In December 2018, Hooper’s database account was closed for suspected fraud. Thereafter, Hooper, Chalk, and an unindicted co-conspirator tried to regain access to the database. Hooper instructed the unindicted co-conspirator to open a new database account by representing that the Navy needed him to perform background checks just like Hooper had done. Hooper offered to pay the unindicted co-conspirator $2,500 for each month that the database account was opened. The unindicted co-conspirator submitted an application to open the database account and the company told him that a supply officer had to sign the contract. Navy supply officers have contracting authority to purchase certain services and supplies for the Navy.
Hooper then sent the unindicted co-conspirator multiple documents falsely identifying an identity theft victim as the supposed Naval supply officer. These documents included a false contract, a fake driver’s license for the identity theft victim, and a forged letter purporting to be from a commanding officer in the Navy. The unindicted co-conspirator submitted the fake documents to the company, but the company decided not to open the new database account.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Barton is prosecuting the case.
Chalk is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 20, 2023. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.