Exclusive: U.S. states probing security breach at Experian unit

A hand is silhouetted in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration. Credit: Reuters
A hand is silhouetted in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration. Credit: Reuters

U.S. attorneys general have launched a multi-state investigation into a breach in which criminals gained access to a repository of some 200 million social security numbers through a unit of data provider Experian Plc.

“We are investigating,” said Maura Possley, a spokeswoman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. “It’s part of a multistate investigation.”

Jaclyn Falkowski, spokeswoman for Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, said that Connecticut is looking into the matter also.

Neither attorney general’s office would say if other states were involved.

A spokesman for Experian declined comment on the probe, saying the company does not comment on such investigations as a matter of policy.

Vietnamese national Hieu Minh Ngo last month pleaded guilty in New Hampshire federal court to running an underground website that offered clients access to personal data of Americans including social security numbers, which could be used for identity theft and other types of financial fraud.

Federal authorities say that he obtained some of that through a U.S. firm known as Court Ventures, which provides customers with access to court records. It also offers them access to a database of social security numbers of some 200 million Americans through a data-share arrangement with another firm, known as U.S. Info Search.

Ngo obtained an account with Court Ventures sometime before March 2012, when Experian bought the data firm, by posing as a Singapore-based private investigator, according to court documents.

Prosecutors say that Ngo’s customers used Court Ventures to make some 3.1 million queries of the U.S. Info Search database over an 18-month period ending in February 2013. Authorities have not said how many people’s data was accessed through those queries, each of which could have potentially included multiple records or returned no data.

Officials with both Experian and U.S. Info Search say they have not been able to ascertain which records were accessed by Ngo’s customers and are therefore unable to notify victims.

“We are actively pursuing the facts and we are working to help uncover what records may have been affected,” said Experian spokesman Gerry Tschopp.

A spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service declined comment. The agency investigated Ngo using undercover agents and lured him from Vietnam to Guam where he was arrested.

He is now awaiting sentencing in New Hampshire federal court.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Bloomberg: Going green will grant you longer life…

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg tells Metro that cities are where fighting global warming can make a difference, and increase people’s lifespan.

International

Ban Ki Moon: "Climate change is an issue…

My message to you is: make your voice heard and your actions count. Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It’s time to lead.

Local

Earth Day New York food toolkits to help…

Hundreds of classrooms across New York City already have indoor container gardens that allow students to grow food right where they learn. But Earth Day…

Local

NYPD announces street closures for United Nations General…

The United Nations representatives are in town, and multiple city streets will be closed to traffic through Saturday, Sept. 26. The NYPD is urging those…

Television

10 Facts you won’t learn about Frankie Grande…

Frankie Grande is the worst and/or the best. Whether or not you're a fan, you'll want to know these facts about the polarizing player from "Big Brother 16."

Movies

Antoine Fuqua can kill someone with just a…

It's amazing what you can get done with the right tools. In designing the climactic battle in "the Equalizer," in which Denzel Washington's retired special…

Movies

Guess Ben Kingsley's worst filmmaking experience

Here's a fun game: Sir Ben Kingsley has made a lot of films since "Gandhi" in 1982, but at least one of them was a…

Books

Does Lena Dunham have any secrets left?

Get a sneak peek at her new book to determine if it’s worth the read.

NFL

3 things that went wrong in Jets loss…

The Jets have very little room for error with a far-from-explosive offense.

NFL

Eli Manning finally feeling good in West Coast…

The Giants have very little time before their next game, but they still took a moment to relish the team’s biggest offensive outburst since Week 1 of 2013.

College

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close…

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close in on FSU

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

Wellbeing

Exercising leads to more drinking — and we…

  We’re rewarding ourselves with more than dessert on days we exercise, according to a new study. On days when people exercise more, typically Thursday…

Wellbeing

5 gadgets to protect you from sharks, concussions,…

The medical industry is inundated with devices looking after all aspects of your wellbeing, from monitoring your sleep patterns to warding off shark attacks. We…

Wellbeing

Narcissism and the ugly side of vanity

I have a friend who constantly talks about herself and rarely asks any questions about my life. She is constantly preening, obsessed with her body,…

Wellbeing

Lacking new ideas, Apple Watch disappoints health experts

Technology pundits were quick to predict the demise of most fitness wristbands and smartwatches when the Apple Watch was announced. But health care professionals and…