SAN DIEGO — A Chula Vista man charged in a Tijuana-based conspiracy to hack into a national mortgage company’s server and steal the identities of thousands of clients was granted bond in San Diego federal court Thursday, while his co-defendant has been ordered to remain behind bars.
Victor Alejandro Fernandez, 38, of Chula Vista may be released on $100,000 bond to be secured by property owned by family. If released, he must stay under house arrest, be monitored by GPS and not access the Internet.
The other defendant, Jason Ray Bailey, 38, of Mammoth Lakes didn’t challenge his detention during a hearing earlier in the week.
Both were arrested by the San Diego FBI’s Cyber Crime Squad.
The indictment unsealed last week charges them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and computer hacking to steal information from about 4,200 clients between December 2012 and June 2013. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The hackers illegally accessed BlitzDoc, a program that the mortgage company used to store personal information on its customers, including names, social security numbers, addresses, tax information and driver’s licenses, according to the indictment.
The company is not named in the federal court papers, although its computer servers are based in Michigan.
The conspirators used the stolen information to open lines of credit in the victims’ names and steal assets, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
For instance, prosecutors say a conspirator would call the mortgage broker posing as a customer and provide the personal information, then change the usernames, passwords and contact information. Once taking over a customer’s account, the hackers wired the victim’s funds to the conspirators’ own bank accounts in San Diego and Calexico, authorities said.
Many of the wires were in amounts of $20,000 to $30,000 each, authorities said. The total amount stolen was not released.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sabrina Feve said the case is an important reminder to enable a two-step verification process on sensitive accounts and to review bank statements.
“If you see something you don’t recognize, check in on it,” Feve said.
The men face up to 35 years in prison if convicted.
By Kristina Davis6:05 p.m.March 6, 2014
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