SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – Two private investigators have been indicted for hacking into email, Skype accounts and computers of people who opposed their clients in civil lawsuits, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
A grand jury indicted Nathan Moser, 41, and Peter “Bobby Russo” Siragusa, 59, charging them with conspiracy, accessing a protected computer and obtaining information and intercepting electronic communications.
Both men are private investigators, with Moser owning Moser and Associates in Menlo Park, Calif., and Siragusa heading Siragusa Investigations in nearby Novato.
Also charged in the indictment – which was unsealed on Tuesday – are alleged computer hackers Trent Williams, 24, and Sumit Gupta, 26, as well as Carlo Pacileo, the 44-year-old director of security for one of Moser’s clients.
Prosecutors say Moser and Siragusa allegedly schemed to obtain information that would help their clients in civil suits. Once retained by a client, the two men hired Williams and Gupta – “among others,” according to prosectuors – to hack into the opposing party’s email and Skype accounts.
Williams and Gupta also allegedly installed keyloggers on the victims’ personal computers to track their actions, according to the indictment.
The scheme came to light when L.A.-based network marketing company ViSalus – Pacileo’s employer – sued the employees of a competitor, Utah-based Ocean Avenue, for leaving ViSalus to work for Ocean Avenue.
Pacileo hired Moser to investigate Ocean Avenue, and Moser in turn enlisted Siragusa to help. They then allegedly hired Williams and Gupta to hack into the opposing parties’ computers to assist in ViSalus’ lawsuit, according to the indictment.
Moser, Siragusa and Williams made their initial court appearances on Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal in San Jose. Moser and Siragusa posted bond and have been released, while Williams remains in custody.
Pacileo made his first appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ralph Zarefsky in Los Angeles and also bonded out. An arrest warrant has been issued for Gupta, who is believed to be in India, and FBI agents in San Jose and New Dehli are working to arrest him.
The maximum penalty for the men’s conspiracy charge is five years in prison, three years’ probation and a $250,000 fine. The hacking and interception charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and five years, respectively, and fines of up to $250,000.
The suspects’ next hearings are slated for later this month.
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