Insiders, After a FashionInsiders, After a Fashion
Employees of a fashion trade show operation accused of hacking company data to build a side business of their own
October 30, 2008
Two employees of a company that runs trade shows for the fashion industry were arrested this week when they were discovered to be building a side business using stolen company information. Jeffrey White and Morgan Gantt face charges arising out of an alleged scheme to hack into a computer network belonging to ENK International LLC, which coordinates fashion trade shows. The two are being held by the FBI.
ENK terminated White's employment in July, followed by Gantt on Aug. 21, after ENK management discovered she was operating -- during her work hours and using ENK resources -- a temporary employment agency targeting exhibitors at fashion shows. As Gantt was preparing to leave ENK's offices on the day she was fired, ENK management saw her remove a portable USB computer storage drive from her ENK computer. Gantt allegedly refused to turn over or show the contents of the USB drive and left the office.
A forensic analysis was conducted of the contents of Gantt's ENK Blackberry -- which she did surrender on the day she was terminated -- as well as the computer she used during the course of her employment at ENK. The analysis revealed a series of text messages between Gantt and White on Aug. 13, in which White instructed Gantt to access and send certain ENK electronic documents to White's personal e-mail address. The analysis confirmed that Gantt had sent those documents on the same day.
As it turned out, the documents contained information relating to more than 440 retail buyers who had been scheduled to attend ENK's trade shows in July, and the names and other information relating to 500 people who attended ENK's shows. Access to these documents could give ENK's competitors a considerable advantage with respect to fashion industry clients, the FBI said.
The forensic analysis revealed another series of text messages between Gantt and White around Aug. 15, in which White instructed Gantt to download confidential ENK files to a USB storage device. An analysis of Gantt's ENK computer revealed she had downloaded those files, which contained sensitive information relating to ENK's trade show business.
White and Gantt are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit unauthorized computer access, and one count of conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets. If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 11 years in jail.
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