Rigzone Founder Arrested, Allegedly Hacked Data In Wire Fraud Scheme

The FBI on March 30 arrested David W. Kent in Spring, Texas, on charges of computer hacking and wire fraud for his alleged role in a scheme to steal proprietary Rigzone information and use it to defraud Rigzone’s parent company, DHI Group, Inc.

Kent, 40, founded Rigzone in 2000. Ten years later, he sold the company to DHI Group, Inc. for $51 million. Kent allegedly hacked into the Rigzone database in 2014 and then again in 2015 through access points created during his tenure at Rigzone and required his intimate knowledge of the system. The criminal complaint states Kent obtained data to boost membership at a new networking site he created, Oilpro.com. Kent later allegedly initiated discussions to sell Oilpro.com to DHI Group. DHI does not believe the data accessed was used in any other way by any other third party. Both Oilpro.com and Rigzone are based in Houston.

Michael Durney, president and CEO of DHI Group Inc., said in a statement that company leadership had detected unauthorized access to proprietary Rigzone information in early 2014. DHI launched an internal investigation and alerted federal authorities. The company then took steps to ensure no further information was taken.

“We have been and continue to be in full cooperation with governmental authorities,” said Michael Durney, president and CEO of DHI Group, Inc. “Only resume profile information was accessed; at no time was personally identifiable information compromised. The protection of our members’ data is of the utmost importance to us and we continue to take serious measures to ensure our members’ information is secure.”

Personally identifiable information is generally understood to include information used to distinguish an individual’s identity such as social security number, driver’s license or passport information. This type of information along with bank statements or financial information are not included in Rigzone’s candidate database.

As part of Rigzone’s sale, Kent remained as president until he left the company in September 2011. Two years later, he established Oilpro.com, which competed with Rigzone’s careers business unit. Oilpro.com is currently offline.

Kent faces one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and wire fraud, which carries a maximum term of five years in prison, and one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison.

An award-winning journalist, Deon has reported on energy, business and politics for almost 20 years. Email Deon at deon.daugherty@rigzone.com

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