Fraud Management & Cybercrime , ID Fraud

Ex-DHS Officials Charged With Stealing Software, Database

Prosecutors Allege They Tried to Resell Software Back to Government
Ex-DHS Officials Charged With Stealing Software, Database

A former acting inspector general of U.S. Department of Homeland Security and another government official have been indicted for allegedly stealing DHS proprietary software and databases and then attempting to resell the technology back to the government, according to the Justice Department.

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Charles K. Edwards, 59, who served as the acting inspector general of Homeland Security between 2011 and 2013, and one his subordinates in the department, Murali Yamazula Venkata, 54, were indicted Friday on federal charges, including conspiracy to commit theft of government property and to defraud the United States, theft of government property, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, prosecutors say.

Venkata is also charged with destruction of records, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which is overseeing the case.

The scheme, according to the Justice Department, started in 2014 after Edwards left his position, and then attempted to steal software and databases used by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General for his company - Delta Business Solutions. Venkata, who remained at the department during this time, assisted by allegedly helping to steal the technology and then providing support to Edwards in an effort to resell the software back to the government, including Homeland Security and the Department of Agriculture, according to the indictment.

The Office of Inspector General for Homeland Security focuses on uncovering waste and fraud.

Alleged Thefts

In their indictment, federal prosecutors allege that between October 2014 and April 2017, Edwards, Venkata and other unnamed co-conspirators began attempting to steal proprietary software used by the DHS Office of Inspector General as well as a database that contained the personally identifiable information of DHS and U.S. Postal Service employees.

Prosecutors allege they were attempting to create an "enhanced version" of the software and then sell that software back to DHS and other federal agencies through Delta Business Solutions at a profit.

While Edwards had left his position in 2013, Venkata and others, who continued to work at DHS, not only allegedly stole software and databases to help in the scheme but also provided technical support and other knowledge, according to the indictment.

"The indictment further alleges that, in addition to stealing DHS-OIG's software and the sensitive government databases, Venkata and others also assisted Edwards by reconfiguring his laptop so that he could properly upload the stolen software and databases, provided troubleshooting support whenever Edwards required it, and helped him build a testing server at his residence with the stolen software and databases, which contained [personally identifiable information]," according to the Justice Department.

In addition, federal prosecutors allege that Edwards hired software developers in India to help develop the enhanced software package that his company wanted to sell to the federal government.

The case stemmed from an investigation by the DHS Office of Inspector General as well as the Office of Inspector General for the Postal Service, according to federal prosecutors.

About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.

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