Fraud yields prison time: Former IT worker wiretapped email, sent to competitor

A Nineveh man has been sentenced to prison after a federal investigation found he had stolen information from a former employer and then wiretapped emails.

Benjamin Levi Cox, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of interception of electronic communications and was sentenced to eight months in prison.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker also ordered Cox to serve seven months of home confinement, two years of supervised release, perform six months of unpaid community service and to pay $27,490 in restitution, according to a news release from the federal court.

In 2013, Cox worked for Electric Metal Fab, a stainless steel fabrication company in Nashville, Indiana, as IT system administrator and as a designer for the company’s computer-aided drafting or CAD system, the release said.

Cox left the company in June 2013 and took a job with a competing company. In the months before he left, Cox copied Electric Metal Fab’s computer system to an external hard drive, including designs, financial data, personnel records and other documents, the investigation found.

He then took that information with him to his new employer, who was not named in the news release from the federal court. He copied the information from Electric Metal Fab onto the computer system for his new employer, and altered the CAD designs to make it look like they had been created by his new employer, the investigation found.

His new employer was then able to use those designs to get more than $45,000 in contracts with former customers of Electric Metal Fab, the release said.

Cox also had changed the email settings at Electric Metal Fab to automatically forward all emails to two email accounts he set up. The emails included private financial and legal information and exchanges between Electric Metal Fab and its clients, the investigation found.

After being questioned by investigators, Cox deleted the emails from the accounts to try to obstruct the investigation, but was unsuccessful, the news release said. The Cybercrime and High Technology Section of the Indiana State Police and U.S. Secret Service investigated the case.

“Companies have the right to keep their proprietary interests out of the hands of competitors,” said U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler of the Southern District of Indiana. “Those who choose to steal from their employer and then attempt to obstruct a criminal investigation will be held accountable.”

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.