New Hampshire Company Pleads Guilty to Hacking Into a Competitor’s Computer System for Commercial Advantage
CONCORD, NH—Acting United States Attorney Donald Feith, and FBI Special Agent in Charge, Harold H. Shaw, announced today that General Linen Services, LLC of Somersworth, New Hampshire, formerly known as General Linen Service Co., Inc. (General Linen Somersworth) pled guilty to computer hacking in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1030(a)(2)(C) & (c)(2)(B)(i). Earlier this month, charges were filed alleging that between September 2009 and April 8, 2010 the company “intentionally accesses a computer without authorization, and thereby obtained information from a protected computer,” a computer used in interstate commerce, “and the offense was committed for purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain....”
Today General Linen Somersworth appeared before United States District Judge Steven J. McAuliffe and entered a guilty plea on the company’s behalf. The facts to which the company has agreed in its plea include that in September 2009 its former information technology (IT) director, accessed, without authority, the computer server of a competitor with a similar name, General Linen Services Co. Inc. of Newburyport, Massachusetts. The IT director then shared the login information with others at the company, who then repeatedly accessed the competitor’s computer system, downloading approximately 1,100 of their competitor’s invoices for use in sales efforts directed at the competitor’s customers. The FBI’s examination of the victim’s computer system proved that between September 2009 and April 8, 2010 there were 157 instances of unauthorized access to the victim company’s computer system and that the majority of those intrusions originated at the office of the defendant, General Linen Somersworth.
“Small businesses often rely on relatively small profit margins in their day-to-day business,” stated Acting United States Attorney Donald Feith. “These tight profit margins can be harmed, and the survival of a small business can be compromised, when competitors engage in criminal activity to gain a marketing advantage. This case demonstrates that a relatively small New Hampshire company hacked into the computer system of one of its competitors and stole over 1,000 invoices in an effort to steal customers from its competitor. This case should stand as an example to all business in New Hampshire that the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office do not limit their investigations of computer hacking to Fortune 500 companies. All businesses are entitled to the safe and secure use of their computers and the Internet, and when hacking is suspected investigations and prosecutions will take place.”
The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced on March 26, 2016 and faces a maximum sentence of five years’ probation, up to a $500,000 fine, and may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim of its crime, General Linen Newburyport.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arnold H. Huftalen.