CINCINNATI (TDB) -- A General Electric Co. program manager with a taste for gambling in Las Vegas is under federal investigation for hacking into the company's Ohio computer system with an elaborate scheme that transferred huge sums of money from doctors' offices in Dallas into bogus bank accounts created to make investments in China.
The G.E. insider attempted to make overseas wire transfers last year from the accounts, which were flush with cash after he adopted the identity of a dentist in Houston, Tex., the Daily Bellwether has learned.
The G.E. unit hit was the computer system in Kettering, Ohio for GE Money Bank, which is a financial subsidiary of the giant conglomerate based in Fairfield, Conn. Federal Secret Service agents have been investigating the hacking incident since April 6, 2006 and say their case involves fraud in connection with access devices, wire fraud and bank fraud. About $1.7 million has been seized so far from a bank in Indianapolis. Federal officials say there is some evidence the hacker, whom they described as ''very intelligent" went to Malaysia in 2006 to execute the scheme.
According to an affidavit obtained by The Daily Bellwether, U.S. Secret Service Agent Charles J. Wilkerson said the G.E. worker was deeply involved in a software installation project. As a program administrator, the suspect had employees' logon passwords and security codes. Matthews said the hacker "was very intelligent, but gambled frequently in the Las Vegas, Nevada area. My investigation has revealed that ***** was able to gain access into the merchant accounts of several GE customers, and ***** and went into GE's computer system in Kettering, Ohio., and changed the account information for several of the merchant accounts, so that instead of GE paying the amount due to the merchants, the funds were actually paid into an account owned by ***** but which was held under a false name."
[Ed. Note: The Bellwether has the hacker's name but is not identifying him because he is not charged. Officials identified him in paperwork tracking down his bank accounts.]
The Secret Service agent said the worker quit GE last March right before the account manipulations began. He said someone ''who worked at a GE facility in Tempe, Arizona
accessed and downloaded 1,000 legitimate credit card numbers" that were linked to accounts associated with medical practices in the Dallas, Texas area. He said ''it appeared as though a patients credit card was being 'swiped' at a point-of-sale terminal at a doctor's office."
The G.E. worker attempted to authorize wire transfers to the Hang Seng Bank for property purchases and the Bank of China for investments.
U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose of Dayton has issued an order allowing the Justice Department to seize $1,685,813.49 that has been traced to an account at the Union Federal Bank in Indianapolis. Last week, Rose signed an order allowed the Treasury Department's asset forfeiture and money laundering section in Washington to sort out how G.E. can recover the money. (Southern District of Ohio, 3:06-cv-176)