The founder of Oilpro.com pled guilty on Monday to hacking a competitor’s website and stealing customer information.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York, David W. Kent, the founder of the professional networking website, pled guilty to one count of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization.
The charge is related to Kent’s role in “repeatedly hacking” into a competitor’s database to steal customer information.
Kent, 41, started Oilpro in 2013 after selling a separate networking site for energy professionals he founded in 2010.
Kent sold his previous website for $51 million to a publicly traded company that is based in New York and left the website in 2011.
According to the Attorney’s Office, Kent conspired to gain access to account information belonging to his previous website without authorization.
Kent was able to access and steal membership information belonging to his previous website, including information from over 700,000 customer accounts.
Kent then used the stolen membership information to invite member’s of his previous website to join Oilpro.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that a former Oilpro employee who also worked at Kent’s previous website accessed information from the targeted website’s Google Analytics account without authorization and forwarded the information to Kent.
While the fraud was being committed, Kent also attempted to sell Oilpro to the same company to whom he had sold his previous website.
During acquisition talks for Oilpro, Kent attempted to defraud the company that purchased his previous website by misrepresenting that Oilpro had increased its membership numbers through “standard marketing methods.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the fraud took place between October 2013 and February 2016.
Kent was arrested on March 30, 2016 and is facing a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Kent is scheduled to be sentenced on March 17.