Michigan man sentenced to 7 years behind bars for hacking, stealing UPMC employee data

PITTSBURGH — A Michigan man will spend the next seven years behind bars after he was found guilty of hacking into UPMC databases and stealing the personal data of more than 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.

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Officials said Johnson completed his hack in 2013 and 2014 and stole the personal information and W-2 data of the employees. Johnson also stole and sold nearly 90,000 additional sets of data to people on the dark web from 2014 through 2017.

Federal officials said Johnson was known as “TheDearthStar” and “Dearthy Star” on the dark web.

The whole operation netted about $1.7 million in false tax return refunds.