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Man arrested for stealing UPMC employee data, selling on dark web

DETROIT, MI — A Michigan man was arrested this week for allegedly hacking into a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center human resources database in 2014 and stealing the personal information of over 65,000 employees.

According to investigators, Justin Johnson then sold that information on the dark web, which resulted in the filing of thousands of false IRS tax returns.

Investigators said that those refunds were then converted into Amazon gift cards that were used to purchase merchandise that was shipped to Venezuela.

“His theft left over 65,000 victims vulnerable to years of potential financial fraud. Hackers like Johnson should know that our office will pursue you relentlessly until you are in custody and held accountable for your crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Scott Brady in a news release.

Investigators said since 2014, Johnson has regularly sold other person information on the dark web, which could be used to commit identity theft or bank fraud.

The scheme led to approximately $1.7 million in false tax return refunds.

Johnson is charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.