Oil Industry Networking Site Creator Pleads Guilty In Hacking Case

Surging Oil Industry Brings Opportunity To Rural California
TAFT, CA - JULY 22: Oil rigs just south of town extract crude for Chevron at sunrise on July 22, 2008 in Taft, California. Hemmed in by the richest oil fields in California, the oil town of 6,700 with a stagnant economy and little room to expand has hatched an ambitious plan to annex vast expanses of land reaching eastward to Interstate 5, 18 miles away, and taking over various poor unincorporated communities to triple its population to around 20,000. With the price as light sweet crude at record high prices, Chevron and other companies are scrambling to drill new wells and reopen old wells once considered unprofitable. The renewed profits for oil men of Kern County, where more than 75 percent of all the oil produced in California flows, do not directly translate increased revenue for Taft. The Taft town council wants to cash in on the new oil boom with increased tax revenues from a NASCAR track and future developments near the freeway. In an earlier oil boom era, Taft was the site of the 1910 Lakeside Gusher, the biggest oil gusher ever seen in the US, which sent 100,000 barrels a day into a lake of crude. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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The founder of an oil and gas networking website accused of hacking into a rival site he had created and sold to DHI Group pleaded guilty to a computer fraud charge on Monday, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors in March charged David Kent, 41, with having stolen data on more than 500,000 user resumes from Rigzone.com, which he sold for $51 million in 2010, to boost the membership of his new site Oilpro.com.

Prosecutors at the time said that Kent then tried to sell Oilpro, created in 2013, to DHI by misrepresenting that the new website increased its membership to 500,000 through standard marketing methods.

In Manhattan federal court on Monday, Kent pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and related activity in connection with computers. As part of a plea deal, he agreed not to appeal any sentence of 4-3/4 years or less.

A lawyer for Kent did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Kent, a resident of Spring, Texas, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote on March 17.

Rigzone was launched by Kent in 2000 and allows members to create profiles and upload resumes. When the website was sold to New York-based DHI in 2010, its member database was worth $6 million, according to court papers.

From the start, Kent aimed to build a website that DHI would be interested in acquiring, a criminal complaint said. By January 2016, the database of his new Houston-based company had grown to 500,000 members, the complaint said.

Rigzone’s database was hacked twice in 2014 and 2015, the complaint said, resulting in members being solicited to join Oilpro, the complaint said.

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DHI has said that it cooperated with authorities in the investigation. Under his plea agreement, Kent has agreed to pay the company $3.29 million in restitution.

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