Threats, Cybercrime

NYPD detective pleads guilty to hiring email hackers

On Friday, Edwin Vargas, a 42-year-old New York Police Department (NYPD) detective, pleaded guilty to one count of computer hacking and one count of conspiring to commit computer hacking. The Bronx officer was arrested in May.

Between April 2010 and October 2012, Vargas obtained credentials for about 43 personal email accounts – and one mobile phone – belonging to roughly 30 individuals, according to an FBI report. As many as 20 email accounts belonged to NYPD officers.

Vargas confessed to accessing at least one NYPD officer's personal email account using the compromised credentials. The detective also confessed to accessing a federal database – the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) – without authorization in order to obtain further information on two NYPD officers.

A cooperative investigation between the FBI and NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau revealed that Vargas paid more than $4,000 for hacking services.

“Vargas' 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,” Preet Bharara, a Manhattan U.S. attorney, said.

Vargas will be sentenced on March 14, 2014 and each of the two charges against him carry a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

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