Computer technician pleads guilty to conspiracy for enabling $50 million identity theft

Tuesday, September 14th 2004, 1:56 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A computer technician who prosecutors said made possible the largest identity theft in U.S. history, surpassing $50 million, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy in a scheme that poached personal information from tens of thousands of people.

Philip A. Cummings, 35, said he did not realize that his accomplices would do so much damage with the information he sold.

``I didn't know the magnification,'' he told U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels, who set sentencing for Jan. 11. However, he acknowledged that he knew his actions were wrong and illegal.

Cummings worked from mid-1999 through August 2000 as a help-desk worker at Teledata Communications Inc., a Long Island computer software company that provides banks with computerized access to credit information databases.

The government said Cummings agreed to sell to an unidentified co-conspirator the passwords and codes for downloading consumer credit reports. Tens of thousands of credit reports were stolen, prosecutors said.

Under a plea agreement, Cummings may be sentenced to at least 14 years in prison for conspiracy, fraud and wire fraud.

The deal allows him to ask for a prison term of less than 10 years based on health problems, including heart trouble. But the government can oppose any such request.

As part of the plea deal, Cummings agreed to forfeit any property he obtained as a result of the crimes.

According to court documents, Cummings was paid roughly $30 for each stolen report. The information was passed on to at least 20 individuals who then set out to make money from the information, feeding a network of criminals nationwide.

The scheme involved tens of thousands of victims and caused losses of between $50 million and $100 million, the government said.