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Seattle software engineer charged in Capital One data heist

Law enforcement is actively investigating and charging white collar crimes, both federal and state.

Giant data breaches are becoming more common. With the recent Equifax data loss impacting more than half of Americans to the recent Capital One incident in which one million people in the U.S. and six million in Canada had their personal data compromised, many are throwing up their hands.

But federal and state authorities are taking data and identity theft seriously in response. On July 29, 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington issued a news release about the Capital One heist. The financial services company is well known as a major issuer of credit cards and the stolen personal data included credit card transactions, Social Security numbers, contact information, credit scores, account numbers and more.

Authorities arrested a 33-year-old woman on charges of computer fraud and abuse, which, if convicted, could bring federal penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of a quarter-million dollars.

The woman was formerly a software engineer at a Seattle tech company. The criminal complaint, which is accessible through a link at the bottom of the news release, states that the defendant posted online that she had taken information from cloud-based servers containing Capital One data after penetrating a firewall. After a tip about the posting, Capital One reported the incident to the FBI, who found the data stored on electronic devices at her home.

White-collar crime convictions bring severe penalties

The authorities moved quickly to investigate the Capital One data theft, arrest a suspect and bring charges. Given the danger to members of the public from identity theft, officials are under pressure to crack down on this illegal activity and of course, that is an important goal for our collective safety.

However, when the government accelerates a crackdown on criminal activity, there is always the possibility of innocent people getting swept up in the law enforcement effort. Anyone who is wrongly under investigation or even charged with a crime should seek advice and representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney as early as possible to develop a vigorous defense and fight for the person’s legal and constitutional rights.

The ramifications of a conviction are too great to go it alone and can include imprisonment, fines and other penalties as well as the difficulty of life with a criminal record and the harm to personal and professional reputation.

The criminal defense attorneys at Maxey Law Office PLLC in Spokane represent those accused of identity theft, fraud and other state and federal white-collar crimes in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.