U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of New York
(212) 637-2600
March 6, 2015

New York City Private Investigator Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Hacking into E-Mail Accounts

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that ERIC SALDARRIAGA, a licensed private investigator in New York City, pled guilty to a criminal Information charging him with conspiracy to commit computer hacking. SALDARRIAGA pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Eric Saldarriaga crossed the line as a private investigator by hiring hackers to unlawfully and secretly access over 60 e-mail accounts, including accounts belonging to people he was investigating. With today’s plea, Mr. Saldarriaga will face the repercussions of his illegal actions.”

FBI Assistant Director Diego Rodriguez said: “Eric Saldarriaga didn’t honorably serve his clients when he abused his powers to the detriment of his victims. Unlawfully accessing personal information is no minor crime. As today’s guilty plea suggests, those who exploit their authority in this way will be made to answer for their actions.”

According to the allegations contained in the Information and statements made in court:

The defendant, a licensed private investigator, owned a company that provided private investigation services to members of the public for a fee. Beginning in 2009, SALDARRIAGA, through services advertised on the Internet (the “Hacking Services”), hired individuals to hack into the e-mail accounts of numerous victims. SALDARRIAGA used the Hacking Services to access, unlawfully and secretly, the e-mail accounts of individuals he investigated on behalf of his clients, as well as individuals in whom SALDARRIAGA was interested for personal reasons.

SALDARRIAGA paid the Hacking Services to provide him with login credentials, including usernames and passwords, for victims’ e-mail accounts. SALDARRIAGA then unlawfully accessed and reviewed victims’ e-mail communications. In total, SALDARRIAGA hired Hacking Services to hack into, and provide unauthorized access to, at least 60 different e-mail accounts.

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SALDARRIAGA, 41, of Queens, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. SALDARRIAGA is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Sullivan on June 26, 2015. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the FBI for their outstanding work in the investigation.

This matter is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Noble is in charge of the case.

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