Brooklyn NYPD auxiliary officer charged with hacking FBI database, NYPD computers
Posed as a Lawyer Willing to Assist with Traffic Accident and Related Injury Claims; Used Database to Troll for Victims
Brooklyn federal court unsealed Tuesday a criminal complaint charging Yehuda Katz, an NYPD auxiliary deputy inspector, with executing a scheme to hack into a restricted NYPD computer and other sensitive law enforcement databases.
The defendant, Katz, was arrested earlier this morning and his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge James Orenstein was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
According to the complaint, Katz surreptitiously installed multiple electronic devices in the Traffic Safety Office (TSO) of the NYPD’s 70th Precinct, located on Lawrence Avenue in Brooklyn, that allowed him to remotely access restricted NYPD computers and law enforcement databases, including one maintained by the FBI, that he did not have permission to access.
One of the electronic devices installed by Katz contained a hidden camera that captured a live image of the TSO and was capable of live-streaming that image over the Internet.
The second electronic device was connected to one of the computers in the TSO and allowed the computer to be accessed and controlled remotely.
As alleged in the complaint, investigators with the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau and the FBI determined that the devices had been used to allow Katz to remotely log onto an NYPD computer using usernames and passwords belonging to NYPD-uniformed officers. Katz then ran thousands of queries in databases, including a restricted law enforcement database maintained by the FBI, for information, including the personal identifying information of victims, related to traffic accidents in the greater New York City area.
The complaint further alleges that, after Katz accessed the NYPD computer and law enforcement databases, he contacted individuals who had been involved in traffic accidents and falsely claimed to be an attorney with the fictitious “Katz and Katz law firm” who could assist them with potential legal claims.
Letters sent by Katz to accident victims included claims such as “I can advise you with 100 percent confidence that I can resolve this claim in your favor,” and “My fee is 14 percent only when you collect. And I know that you will collect.”
All told, the complaint states, between May and August 2014, Katz ran more than 6,400 queries in sensitive law enforcement databases that he accessed remotely via the compromised NYPD computer for information related to traffic accidents.
“The defendant allegedly used his position as an auxiliary officer to hack into restricted computers and networks in order to obtain the personal information of thousands of citizens in a scheme to enrich himself through fraud,” stated U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Loretta Lynch.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton added, “[t]his case is a clear example of the collaborative effort between federal prosecutors, the FBI and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau to weed out individuals who allegedly violate the Department’s trust.”
-Information provided by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York
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