Mortgage Hackers Accused of Stealing $100,000

SAN DIEGO (CN) - Two Californians face up to 35 years in prison if convicted of federal charges of hacking into mortgage brokers' computers to steal personal information from more than 4,000 victims and defrauding them by wire.
     Jason Ray Bailey, of Chula Vista, and Victor Alejandro Fernandez, of Mammoth Lakes, both 38, are charged with computer hacking and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
     They stole more than $100,000 in all, according to the U.S. attorney's statement.
     They are accused of "hacking into the computer servers of a major U.S. mortgage broker to steal personal information and use it to siphon funds from the brokerage accounts of thousands of victims," the U.S. attorney said.
     The conspiracy allegedly stole personal information from about 4,200 customers between December 2012 and 2013, and used the stolen information to "to impersonate the mortgage customers, open credit lines in their names, and steal their assets, according to the charging documents."
     Sometimes the conspirators took control of their victims' accounts by calling the brokerage company and using the stolen information to change the victims' passwords and contacts information. Then they wired money to coconspirators' accounts in Southern California, prosecutors said. "Several of these wires were over $20,000 and $30,000 each," the U.S. attorney said in the statement.
     Although both men are from Southern California, and the allegedly stolen money was wired to U.S. bank accounts in the San Diego and Calexico areas, the U.S. Attorney's Office claims the conspiracy is or was based in Tijuana.
     Bailey has a detention hearing set for Tuesday, Fernandez for Thursday.
     The maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit wire fraud is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Computer hacking is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.