A California couple has been indicted over allegations they used their military status to steal the personal information of more than 9,000 people.
According to a report from NBC Los Angeles on Wednesday, Natasha Chalk and her husband Marquis Hooper used their positions in the U.S. Navy to access, then sell, the compromised identities for a total of around $160,000 in bitcoin.
Prosecutors allege the couple intended for the stolen personal information to be used in crime related to identity theft.
Hooper, who was stationed in Japan at the time, was a chief petty officer with the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, while Chalk was a naval reservist stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California.
Last week, the couple were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
In August 2018, Hooper got in touch with a company storing millions of people’s personal information and claimed to be conducting background checks on behalf of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet.
However, it is alleged Hooper gave his wife and others, who were not named, access to the database account. Over the course of two and half months, the couple ran searches on thousands of people.
The illegally obtained personal data ultimately ended up being used in identity theft by the recipients, according to the indictments.
The couple’s lawyer, Michael McKneely, argued the pair utilized “commercially available databases” used by everyday people and also added the action by the couple was “clearly part of the scope of their work.”
Prosecutors cite the case of an Arizona man who tried to withdraw money from a bank account using a fake driver’s license that Hooper had allegedly found in the database.
Chalk was detained on Monday, while Hooper was arrested on Tuesday. The pair face a maximum of 20 years in prison, according to the report.