Marquis Hooper, a 32-year-old chief petty officer from Selma, California, has been found guilty of opening an account under false pretenses at a private company that stores personal identifiable information (PII) of millions of individuals. The company only grants access to businesses and government agencies with a lawful need for PII. Hooper falsely claimed that he required the account to conduct background checks on behalf of the Navy.
Hooper, along with his wife and co-defendant, Natasha Chalk, a Navy reservist, proceeded to steal the PII of over 9,000 individuals and sold it on the dark web for $160,000 worth of Bitcoin. Court documents reveal that some buyers used the stolen information to commit crimes, such as creating counterfeit driver’s licenses to withdraw money from victims’ accounts.
The fraudulent account was opened by Hooper in August 2018, but the company detected suspicious activity and closed it in December of the same year. In an attempt to regain access, Hooper instructed an unindicted co-conspirator to open a new account at the company, offering to pay $2,500 per month for its use. However, the company required confirmation from a Navy officer, prompting Hooper to provide the co-conspirator with forged documents, including a fake contract, a false driver’s license, and a fabricated letter allegedly from a Navy commanding officer. These documents were created using the stolen PII of an identity theft victim.
Natasha Chalk, scheduled for sentencing on November 20, faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.