Tactical

Former Navy chief sentenced in identity theft scam

A federal court sentenced a former Navy IT manager to more than five years in prison this month after he falsely claimed that he needed to conduct background checks for the Navy as part of an identity theft scam and made money off the con.

Former Navy chief Marquis A. Hooper, 32, created an online account in August 2018 with an unidentified company that runs a database containing personally identifiable information for millions of people, according to federal officials.

Although the database is limited to businesses and government agencies who have shown a need to access the personal information, Hooper falsely claimed that his job with the Navy required him to conduct background checks.

After opening the database account, Hooper added his wife and co-defendant, Natasha Chalk, to the account, the Justice Department said in an Oct. 16 news release.

“They then stole over 9,000 people’s [personally identifiable information] and sold it to other individuals on the dark web for $160,000 in bitcoin,” the release states.

Those who purchased the information used it to commit other crimes, according to the Justice Department, including one individual who created a fake driver’s license from the information in an attempt to drain money from the victim’s bank account.

When Hooper’s database was shuttered for suspected fraud in December 2018, he and Chalk sought to regain access to the database with an unindicted co-conspirator. Hooper told the unindicted co-conspirator to claim the Navy required him to conduct background checks when applying for a new database account.

But the company told the unindicted co-conspirator that a supply officer with purchasing authority must sign the contract. In response, Hooper provided documents falsely identifying an identity theft victim as a Naval supply officer to the unindicted co-conspirator, the Justice Department said.

“These documents included a false contract, a fake driver’s license for the identity theft victim, and a forged letter purporting to be from a commanding officer in the Navy,” the Justice Department said in a news release. “The unindicted co-conspirator submitted the fake documents to the company, but the company decided not to open the new database account.”

Hooper, who was stationed in Japan in 2018, and Chalk, who served in the Navy Reserves, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Fresno in 2021 on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

Chalk’s sentencing is scheduled for next month, and she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

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