Private Investigators Indicted in E-Mail Hacking Scheme
SAN JOSE—Nathan Moser, Peter Siragusa, AKA Bobby Russo, Carlo Pacileo, Trent Williams, and Sumit Gupta, AKA Sumit Vishnoi, were charged with crimes related to a conspiracy to access the e-mail accounts, Skype accounts, and computers of people opposing Moser’s and Siragua’s clients’ in civil lawsuits, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.
A federal grand jury indicted Moser, 41, of Menlo Park, Calif.; Siragusa, 59, of Novato, Calif.; Pacileo, 44, of El Segundo, Calif.; Williams, 24, of Martinez, Calif.; and Gupta, 26, of Jabalapur, India, on January 15, 2015, charging them with one count of Conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(b), six counts of Accessing a Protected Computer and Obtaining Information, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)(C), and two counts of Interception of Electronic Communications, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2511(1)(a). The indictment was unsealed in court in San Jose, Calif., yesterday.
According to the Indictment, Moser was a private investigator and owner of Moser and Associates in Menlo Park. Siragusa was also a private investigator and owner of Siragusa Investigations in Novato. Although Moser and Siragusa operated separate businesses, they often assisted in each other’s investigations. The Indictment further alleges that Williams and Gupta were computer hackers hired by Moser and Siragusa to access the e-mail accounts, Skype accounts, and protected computers of individuals without authorization. Pacileo was the director of security for ViSalus, a network marketing company based in Los Angeles and one of Moser’s clients.
The Indictment alleges that the object of the defendants’ conspiracy was to obtain information that would assist Moser’s and Siragusa’s clients, including Pacileo, in the clients’ lawsuits. According to the indictment, once retained by a client, Moser and Siragusa would hire Williams and Gupta, among others, to hack into the victims’ e-mail accounts, Skype accounts, and protected computers. In addition to that conduct, the defendants allegedly installed and used a keylogger—a tool that intercepts and logs the particular keys struck on a keyboard in a covert manner so that the person using the keyboard is unaware that his or her actions are being monitored—to obtain information that would assist Moser’s and Siragusa’s clients.
According to the Indictment, Ocean Avenue, a network marketing company based in South Jordan, Utah, was a competitor of ViSalus that had hired several former ViSalus employees. As a result, ViSalus initiated a civil lawsuit against Ocean Avenue employees. Pacileo hired Moser to investigate Ocean Avenue. Moser allegedly enlisted Siragusa to assist with the investigation, and together they hired hackers to illegally obtain information to assist in the lawsuit.
Moser, Siragusa, and Williams made their initial appearances in San Jose yesterday before the Honorable Paul S. Grewal, U.S. Magistrate Judge. Moser was released on a $100,000 bond, with his wife signing as surety and custodian. Moser’s next hearing is scheduled for identification of counsel today before Judge Grewal. Siragusa was released pending the filing of a $100,000 secured bond on or before February 20, 2015. His next hearing is scheduled for February 23, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. before the Honorable Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Judge, in San Jose. Williams, who remains in custody, has a detention hearing scheduled for February 13, 2015, at 1:30 p.m., before Judge Grewal.
Pacileo made his initial appearance in Los Angeles before the Honorable Ralph Zarefsky, U.S. Magistrate Judge, and was released pending the filing of a $25,000 secured bond on or before February 13, 2015. His next hearing is scheduled for February 23, 2015 before Judge Davila.
An arrest warrant has been issued by the court for Gupta, who is believed to be in India. FBI Agents in San Jose are working with the FBI office in New Delhi, India, to secure Gupta’s prosecution.
The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(b) is five years custody, three years’ supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. The maximum statutory penalty for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)(C) is 10 years custody, three years’ supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. The maximum statutory penalty for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2511(1)(a) is five years custody, three years’ supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Matt Parrella and Michelle Kane are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elise Etter. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.