A Seattle man was sentenced today to 95 months in prison and three years of supervised release for a crime spree that involved both physical burglary, and hacking into computer systems to steal personal and business information used in a variety of thefts and frauds, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. JOSHUAH ALLEN WITT, 35, pleaded guilty in April 2012 to conspiracy to intentionally access a protected computer without authorization with intent to defraud, intentionally causing and attempting to cause damage to a protected computer and thereby causing loss in excess of $5,000, accessing a protected computer without authorization to further fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Over the 30 months of this conspiracy, more than fifty local businesses were damaged and defrauded of more than $3 million. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said the crime impacted an enormous number of people. “For some of these individuals it will be years, if not a lifetime, to recover from the conduct you engaged in,” Judge Jones told WITT.
“This sends a strong message to these modern day bank robbers: Hack and steal at your own peril, as the consequence is prison time,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan who leads the Justice Department’s Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Enforcement working group. “I commend the businesses who quickly alerted law enforcement about the intrusions on their computer systems. Without their help, law enforcement could not have put this ring out of business.”
Prosecutors urged a sentence at the high end of the guidelines to deter those who would commit crimes in cyberspace. “Computers and computer networks are now integral to virtually every facet of business and commercial life. Businesses must necessarily be digital, in order to survive. Unfortunately, this digital revolution has also created new and unprecedented opportunities for crimes on a scale, and at a speed that were impossible in the strictly “physical” world. Hackers can access personal and financial data remotely, and then turn around and exploit it in innumerable ways, and in myriad venues, within a matter of hours. What the hackers can do in hours, takes victims and law enforcement weeks, months, and sometimes years to understand, analyze and successfully investigate,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.