Fresno County Couple Admits to Identity Theft While in the Navy
A former Navy couple residing in Selma has admitted to selling stolen personal identity information on the dark web for $160,000 in 2018.
Marquis Hooper, 32, and Natasha Chalk, 39, pleaded guilty to conspiracy Monday in Fresno federal court, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said in a news release.
Hooper, a chief petty officer at the time of the crimes, also pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Hooper and Chalk are scheduled to be sentenced on July 24, 2023, by U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Thurston. They each face significant prison time and fines.
According to court records, Hooper opened an account with a private company that maintains a database containing personal identity info for millions of people. The company restricts access to the database to businesses and government agencies with a need for the information.
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Claimed They Were Performing Naval Background Checks
Beginning in August 2018, Hooper opened an online account with the company by falsely representing that the Navy needed him to perform background checks on sailors. After Hooper opened his account, he added Chalk, who was in the Naval reserves.
The couple used Hooper’s access to the company’s database to obtain the information of more than 9,000 people. They then sold the info on the dark web for $160,000 in digital currency.
Investigators said that individuals who bought the information from Hooper and Chalk used it to commit fraud.
Court records state that after Hooper and Chalk lost access to the database, they enlisted an unindicted co-conspirator to continue the scheme with a promise of paying that person $2,500 a month.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations accumulated the evidence against the pair. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Barton is prosecuting the case.