Crime

Fired employee accused of hacking into Lucchese Boots' server

Suspect faces cyber crime charge

EL PASO - An ex-Lucchese Bootmaker employee is accused of hacking into the company's server an hour after being fired, court documents state.    

Joe Venzor, 40, is charged with computer hacking, or the unauthorized intrusion upon protected computers.

Venzor was terminated from the company's IT department Sept. 1. As he was being notified of his termination and removal from the network, Venzor became hostile and would not leave, according to the criminal complaint obtained by the ABC-7 I-Team.

About an hour later, Venzor allegedly used a separate Lucchese network account named "elplaser" to shutdown the company's email server, shut down the company's application server and deleted critical system files so that the server could not be rebooted, records show. Investigators learned that the server controlled the company's production line, warehouse, distribution center and its ability to take orders. Venzor is also accused of accessing online services and changed passwords and closed service accounts.

Records show because of the shut down, 300 factory employees could not work for nearly three hours and were eventually sent home. Employees in the distribution center were not able to ship any products accept new orders for half that day. The company estimates they lost approximately $100,000 of sales in addition to the lost production time and the extra IT expenses.

As part of its own investigation, Lucchese's IT director discovered that Venzor sent emails from his work email to his personal email. Court documents state one document contained a list of account usernames and passwords for network systems and services. The IT director noticed a pattern in the alleged hack and the list of passwords. IT staff was able to get ahead of any further intrusions and blocked the "elplaser" account Venzor allegedly used.  
 
Investigators alleged Venzor knowingly intentionally transmitted a program, information code or command, and damaged a protected computer. In a news release, Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist said the FBI in El Paso takes every cyber investigation seriously.

"Because of the negative impact one person with cyber skills can have on El Paso businesses and their employees who work hard here every day," Lindquist said. "The FBI is the lead federal agency for investigating cyber attacks by criminals, overseas adversaries, and terrorists. The threat is incredibly serious and growing.

If convicted, Venzor faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Lindquist said cyber intrusions are becoming more commonplace, more dangerous and more sophisticated. The FBI encourages members of the public to report suspected criminal cyber activity.

To report a cyber crime, criminal activity and suspected terrorist threats:
Visit FBI.gov and use the "Online Tips and Public Leads" form.
Report cyber crimes by filing a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.
Contact the El Paso FBI Office at 915-832-5000.

 


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