Rigzone and Oilpro.com founder David Kent on Monday pled guilty to stealing more than 700,000 customer accounts from Rigzone’s database, then trying to sell Oilpro.com to Rigzone’s parent company, DHI Group.
Kent appeared in Manhattan, N.Y., federal court to answer to the charge of one count of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization. Kent has been accused of hacking into Rigzone’s network and stealing data to boost the value of Oilpro, which he founded after selling Rigzone in August 2010 to DHI for approximately $51 million.
The case serves “as a stern reminder to others that unauthorized access to a computer is a federal crime with severe penalties; even just a quick look at the data on the computer can lead to a prison sentence, and that never leads to a leg up in business,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney said in a Dec. 19 press statement.
In March 2000, Kent founded Rigzone, which provides networking services to oil and gas industry professionals. Rigzone members can create profiles with personal and professional information and upload their resumes into a database on the website.
After selling Rigzone to DHI, he continued to serve as president before departing Rigzone in September 2011. In October 2013, Kent launched Oilpro.com, which also provides networking services to oil and gas professionals.
From October 2013 to February 2016, Kent conspired to access information from Rigzone, then use that information to invite Rigzone members to join Oilpro. One of Kent’s employees at Oilpro, who formerly worked for Rigzone, accessed information from Rigzone’s Google Analytics account without permission and forwarded that information to Kent. Meanwhile, Kent tried to sell Oilpro to DHI, telling DHI that Oilpro had grown its membership through standard marketing methods.
Kent, who was arrested on March 30 of this year by the FBI, could face up to five years in prison. He will be sentenced on March 17, 2017.
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