A California couple were charged on charges that they used their military status to steal the personal information of more than 9,000 people.
According to a report by NBC Los Angeles on Wednesday, Natasha Chalk and her husband Marquis Hooper used their positions in the US Navy to access the compromised identities and then sell them to Bitcoin for a total of around $ 160,000.
Prosecutors allege the couple intended to use the stolen personal information for identity theft-related crimes.
Hooper, who was stationed in Japan at the time, was chief petty officer with the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, while Chalk was a Navy reservist stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.
Last week the couple were charged with conspiracy on wire fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
In August 2018, Hooper contacted a company that stores the personal information of millions of people and said it was conducting background checks on behalf of the Seventh Fleet of the U.S. Navy.
However, it is alleged that Hooper granted access to the database account to his wife and others who were not identified by name. Within two and a half months, the couple searched thousands of people.
The illegally obtained personal data, according to the indictments, was ultimately used by the recipients for identity theft.
The couple’s lawyer, Michael McKneely, argued that the couple were using “commercially available databases” used by common people, adding that the couple’s action was “clearly part of the scope of their work”.
Prosecutors cite the case of an Arizona man who tried to withdraw money from a bank account using a forged driver’s license that Hooper allegedly found in the database.
Chalk was arrested on Monday while Hooper was arrested on Tuesday. According to the report, the couple faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.