The founder of the Houston-based Oilpro.com networking website was charged Wednesday for allegedly hacking Rigzone, a competitor that he created and later sold.
David W. Kent, 40, of Spring, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit computer hacking and wire fraud for allegedly stealing information from more than 700,000 customer accounts in order to build up Oilpro’s network. He then recently tried to sell Oilpro, which he created in 2013, to Rigzone’s parent company, New York-based DHI Group, using beefed-up membership numbers, according to a U.S. Department of Justice’s statement.
Kent founded Rigzone in 2000 with his father and sold it in 2010 for about $51 million to DHI. Kent left Rigzone one year after the sale.
Oilpro, which was offline Thursday, is touted as a professional network for oil and gas professionals — essentially LinkedIn for the energy sector. Rigzone features oil and gas information as well as details on jobs in Houston and worldwide.
The investigation and arrest were led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Manhattan-based U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
“Instead of relinquishing control of his former company, subject David Kent continued to illegally access data and information from his former business to help benefit a competing business he formed after the sale,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez said in a prepared statement.
“Unauthorized access to a protected computer system is a federal crime,” he added. “The FBI will investigate and bring to justice criminal actors who commit computer intrusions, whether the unauthorized access is to a personal computer or a corporate server.”
The hacking charge carries a maximum term of five years in prison, and the wire fraud charge has a maximum term of 20 years.
Editor’s Note: The headline and article previously referenced David Kent as being indicted, which was incorrect. Kent was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and wire fraud, and one count of wire fraud.