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University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Hacker Sentenced to Prison

The individual who hacked the human resources databases of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center was sentenced to seven years in prison, the United States Department of Justice announced.

The man, Justin Sean Johnson, 30, formerly of Detroit, Michigan, who was known on the dark web as TheDearthStar and Dearthy Star, stole personally identifiable information (PII) of more than 65,000 UPMC employees.

Johnson, the DoJ explains, hacked UPMC’s servers between 2013 and 2014, stealing both PII and W-2 information that he then sold on dark web forums.

The cybercriminals who purchased the information filed hundreds of false 1040 tax returns claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars in refunds. The funds were then converted to Amazon gift cards and used to purchase merchandise that was shipped to Venezuela.

From 2014 through 2017, Johnson stole and sold approximately 90,000 additional sets of PII, which did not belong to UPMC employees. The stolen information was used to steal roughly $1.7 million in false tax return refunds.

Johnson was sentenced to 60 months in prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States, and 24 months for aggravated identity theft.

“Justin Johnson stole the names, Social Security numbers, addresses and salary information of tens of thousands of UPMC employees, then sold that personal information on the dark web so that other criminals could further exploit his victims. Today’s sentence sends a deterrent message that hacking has serious consequences,” Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman said.

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