Ankur Agarwal (45), of Montville, NJ pleaded guilty to a sophisticated computer hacking scheme against two New Jersey companies and stealing their data today (October 22, 2019) in Newark federal court.
Details of Two Targeted Companies
While the names of the two New Jersey companies targeted by Ankur Agarwal are not disclosed, here are some details specified in the indictment:
- Company One is headquartered in New York with offices in New Jersey and developed various technologies, including an Emerging Technology.
- Company Two is headquartered in Texas with offices in New Jersey and developed various technologies, including an Emerging Technology.
Both Company One and Company Two, according to the indictment, maintained and used computers and computer networks, and engaged in interstate business activities.
According to case documents and statements made in court:
Agarwal admitted that beginning in February 2017 he physically trespassed onto a company’s premises in New Jersey (Company One) and illegally installed hardware key-logger devices onto the company’s computers. The key-logger devices covertly recorded the keystrokes of the company’s employees and provided Agarwal with their usernames and passwords. Agarwal also surreptitiously installed his personal computer and a hard drive onto the company’s computer network. Using the fraudulently obtained logon credentials, Agarwal hacked into the company’s computer network and targeted various employees, including employees developing an emerging technology. Agarwal admitted that he stole, transferred, and exfiltrated Company One’s data and information, including its emerging technology. Agarwal also created a computer malicious code, which he installed onto the company’s computer systems and used to steal and transfer the date to himself.
Agarwal also admitted that he hacked into, targeted, and stole data and information from a second company in New Jersey (Company Two). Using the same general scheme, Agarwal physically trespassed onto Company Two’s premises, illegally installed hardware key-logger devices onto the company’s computers, installed his personal computer and a hard drive onto the company’s computer network, and stole, transferred, and exfiltrated Company Two’s data and information, including an emerging technology that Company Two was developing.
Agarwal also obtained unauthorized access into an employee’s computer system and then fraudulently created an access badge for himself. This fraudulently obtained access badge, bearing another individual’s name, allowed Agarwal to physically trespass onto Company Two’s premises.
Charges Against Ankur Agarwal
The charges against Morris County, NJ Indian Ankur Agarwal include three counts:
- Count One: Obtaining Information from Protected Computers – Company One
- Count Two: Obtaining Information from Protected Computers – Company Two
- Count Three: Aggravated Identity Theft
Potential Penalty & Forfeiture
On each of the charges of obtaining information from Company One and Company Two, Ankur Agarwal faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison.
And, the charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory term of two years in prison, which must run consecutively to the other term of imprisonment imposed.
All three charges against Ankur Agarwal are punishable by a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
And as part of the plea agreement, Ankur Agarwal consented to a forfeiture judgment requiring him to forfeit numerous computers, storage devices, and related equipment.
Sentencing of Morris County NJ Indian Ankur Agarwal is scheduled for January 28, 2020.