42-year-old Edwin Vargas, a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer from Bronxville, has pleaded guilty to hacking into a federal law enforcement database, and paying others to hack into the email accounts of NYPD officers and employees.
According to the FBI, between April 2010 and October 2013, Vargas paid hackers to provide him access credentials for at least 43 personal email accounts belonging to 30 people, 20 of whom were current or former NYPD officers or administrative employees.
In addition, he had also paid hackers to breach into a mobile phone.
He utilized the stolen usernames and passwords to access at least one of the email accounts of an NYPD officer. He’s said to have paid over $4,000 (€3,000) to the hackers who helped him.
The federal database illegally accessed by Vargas is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. From this service, he obtained information on at least two fellow officers.
He accessed the NCIC database with login credentials obtained by hackers from the officers’ emails.
The man was arrested in May 2013. He has pleaded guilty to one count of computer hacking and one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking. For each count, he could be sentenced to up to one year in prison. Sentencing will take place on March 14, 2014.
“Detective Edwin Vargas broke the law, instead of upholding it as he swore to do. He accessed a law enforcement database without authorization and paid hackers to illegally obtain e-mail login information for his fellow officers and others,” noted Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York.
“Vargas’s guilty plea today and his forthcoming punishment make clear that those who illegally invade others’ privacy, including members of law enforcement, will not escape prosecution.”