'TheDearthStar' hacker pleads guilty to stealing, selling 65,000 UPMC employees' data 

A Michigan man, known on the dark web as "TheDearthStar" and "Dearthy Star," pleaded guilty to two counts of a 43-count indictment for hacking Pittsburgh-based UPMC's databases in 2013-14, the Justice Department said May 20. 

In connection with the guilty plea, the federal grand jury in Pittsburgh was advised that Justin Johnson, 30, infiltrated and hacked into the UPMC human resource server databases in 2013 and 2014 to steal sensitive, personally identifiable information and W-2 information belonging to 65,000 UPMC employees. 

Mr. Johnson sold the data on dark web forums to conspirators, who filed hundreds of false 1040 tax returns in 2014 using UPMC employee PII. The false 1040 filings claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars in false tax refunds, which were converted into Amazon.com gift cards and used to purchase merchandise that was shipped to Venezuela, according to the news release. 

Mr. Johnson also stole and sold nearly 90,000 additional sets of PII, unrelated to UPMC, to buyers on dark web forums from2014-17. Overall, the scheme resulted in approximately $1.7 million in false tax returns. 

Mr. Johnson faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. He also faces a mandatory 24 months in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count of aggravated identity theft.


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