3 indicted in sophisticated Washington hacking scheme

Sep 21, 2011

Three Seattle men face charges in federal court that they hacked into the computer systems of dozens of Washington businesses — sometimes choosing their victims simply by driving around and picking up their wireless Internet signals.

Joshuah Allen Witt, Brad Eugene Lowe and John Earl Griffin are charged in a 10-count indictment unsealed this week accusing them of aggravated identity theft and other charges. Thus far Lowe and Griffin have pleaded not guilty.

At least 53 Puget Sound-area companies were hit, with losses well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In some cases, prosecutors say that once the men hacked into the wireless hotspots or broke into the businesses the old-fashioned way, they were able to obtain financial data, steal the identities of employees and route pay checks to accounts they'd set up in the employees' names. Then, they gave themselves raises.

Investigators say the case was solved thanks in part to local and federal agents teamed up on the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force.